Uche Usim, Abuja
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has described the country’s territorial waters as very safe, urging both offshore and onshore shipping companies to continue calling at Nigerian seaports to load and offload their cargoes.
He also said the Council will provide quality training and a sustainable manpower development template for the operatives of the police and the navy on the commercial aspect of shipping in its efforts to make the maritime sector the fulcrum of economic growth and diversification.
In an interview with Daily Sun in Abuja at the weekend, Bello said the Council has deepened collaboration with the Nigeria Police and the Navy to guarantee safer channels for shippers as enshrined in the Federal Government’s blueprint on promoting the ease of doing business.
He particularly hailed the robust collaboration between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Navy, saying it has led to remarkable improvement in safety by tackling piracy and other sea crimes headlong.
He said: “I have visited the Nigerian Navy and the Police as a part of our collaborative efforts to ensure the safety and security of our brown waters. I also like what NIMASA and the Navy are doing in promoting safety and security within our territory.
“All these efforts have led to remarkable reduction in armed robbery attacks on ships either at berth or on the sea. This makes our waters safe and we will not relent,” Bello explained.
The NSC boss, however, condemned in strong terms the categorisation of Nigeria as a war-risk nation, leading to a spike in insurance premiums slammed on vessels and cargoes destined for Nigeria by offshore insurers.
He insists that the few incidents of attacks recorded on Nigerian waters were not sufficient to warrant tagging Nigeria a war-risk nation.
“We do not deserve the war-risk clause tagged on us. Our waters are safe. Again, this is where I have to commend Marine Police for greatly streamlining procedures for cargo clearance at the ports. We’re also ensuring lesser vessel dwell time at ports. The responsiveness of the new IGP has been remarkable. So, it is the Navy, Police and NIMASA. We’re all working on a comprehensive policy framework to boost shipping in Nigeria so that the maritime industry can boost its contributions to the nation’s GDP,” he added.
Two shipping companies, CMA-CGM and Hapag Lloyd recently issued statements announcing the increment in their freight rate with the introduction of what they call Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) on all cargoes originating from anywhere in the world to Tin-Can, Apapa ports in Lagos and Onne port in Rivers State.