The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and stakeholders in the industry has come together to proffer solution to what is happening at the ports after the partial closure of the land borders.
The stakeholders meeting which was recently held in Lagos and chaired by the Councils Executive Secretary, Barrister Hassan Bello, was put together in other to brainstorm on what is happening at the ports and make suggestions on how best to go about them.
The ES made known that the council is in support of the steps taken by the Federal Government as he beckoned on the stakeholders to do same.
He explained further that the partial closure of land borders has become a Federal Government policy and for a long time now, Nigeria has been taking things lightly because we are often called ‘big brother’, while at the same time, turned into a dustbin where everything is dumped by her neighbours due to many sub-regional protocols.
He also said “it is our duty to support what Customs is doing and it is also our duty to proffer solutions. Our concerns are in the aspect of trading because the Nigerian Shippers Council is a trade facilitator just like the customs.
“So we have been involved in the management of the corridor, the Lagos-Abidjan corridor. We have a presence at the Seme border, so we know all the issues going on. We know how we have been taken advantage of and we are in support of what is going on,” he quipped.
Adding that the reality of which is affecting us now is that the source of revenue which is oil is no longer sustainable and it has also been discovered that there is a need for serious diversification.
He admitted that the closure has caused some pain, even as he advised that there is no gain without pain.
“You will agree with me that this has caused some pains, but the pain is also necessary because there is no gain without pain. It has been said that some famers are smiling to the bank while others are saying that some goods are trapped at the borders” he said
Hassan Bello however advocated for the review of Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and other sub regional protocols, bearing in mind that the Federal Government just signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), as Nigeria seems to be a victim rather than beneficiaries.
Speaking at the same gathering,Chairman, Port Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin queried why the border countries should cry more than the bereaved.
Addicted their cry to the fact that they have undue advantage over the country by importing quantity of rice too much for their country for onward passage to Nigeria.
According to Folarin, Nigerian closed her border and not theirs “Why are the border countries crying about our border closure? We closed our border, we didn’t they close their borders why should you cry more than the bereaved?
“Should we be concerned when a country of eleven million is ordering rice for 200 million. Should we not be concerned when a country is getting its import for vehicles without looking for foreign exchange to support that importation.
“Should we not be concerned when these cross border countries determining voyage on Nigeria without any benefit to Nigeria in balance of trade position.
On the other hand the Public Relations Officer, West Africa Road Transport Union (WARTU), Alhaji Nasiru Salami, blamed the government for not being proactive in the first instance that led to dumping of goods into the country.
He pointed out that the country does not have security agents in the neighbouring countries that will monitor the inflow of goods or give data of how goods move across the border, hence Nigeria should not blame others because we do not put structure on ground and should not expect another country to monitor her security in her behalf.
Other stakeholders at the meeting such as the representatives of freight forwarders and clearing agents speaks more on the dilapidated port access road and obsolete ports facilities, congestion at the port and the need for government to critically look into the issue of interconnectivity in other to ease the congestion at the port, more so need for review of auto policy.