Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr. Pius Akutah.

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council NSC, the country’s Economic Regulator for the port industry has warned that it would stop at nothing in sanctioning operators and service providers, who fail to comply with extant regulations, which include but not limited to registering with the Council.

The Council has in the meantime, given the service providers and port operators up till the end of the 4th quarter of 2024 to conclude their registration with it or risk severe sanctions.

Executive Secretary/CEO of the Council, Barr. Pius Akutah, who gave the warning at a one-day stakeholders’ sensitisation forum organised by the Council in Lagos, last week, lamented that the compliance level in terms of registration by the port operators and service providers was low and discouraging since the inception of the exercise.

Represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs, Chief Cajetan Agu, the CEO further insisted that the Council has a major role to play by registering all entities that provide or use services at the seaports, warning that low participation would lead to enforcement by denying some port operators access to carry out their activities.

He highlighted some the sanctions to be meted out to non- compliant stakeholders, which would include sealing of business premises, among others, adding that the enforcement will commence in the fourth quarter of 2024.

He disclosed that plans are underway to blacklist and deregister erring operators from operating at the nation’s seaports, adding that the exercise was in line with the relevant laws of the land.

Available statistics show that only 185 port services providers and users comprising freight forwarders, shippers (importers and exporters), barge operators, terminal operators, stevedoring companies, jetty operators, among several others have registered with the Council so far.

It was further gathered that as a prelude to the enforcement, scheduled to commence in the 4th quarter of 2024, the Council has already launched an online registration portal for all cadres of regulated port service providers and users with a fee ranging from N30,000 to N100,000.

“The Nigerian Shippers Council will withdraw licenses of defaulters, such as confirmation of demurrage, confirmation of reasonableness of freight rates, participation of NSC organised industry meetings etc. It is unacceptable that only 185 operators and service providers have registered with the economic port regulator”, Akutah warned

He further threatened that the NSC will cancel registration certificates and licenses of erring operators at the ports.

The NSC-boss specifically warned terminal operators and shipping companies that non-compliant operators would not be allowed to perform any kind of business with the Council as soon as the enforcement begins in the 4th quarter of the year.

“We will blacklist defaulters thereby delisting defaulting companies and publishing their names on national newspaper”, Akutah warned.

Meanwhile, Assistant Director, ICT, Mr. Benjamin Ivwighreghweta, who enlightened the operators on the online registration, called on the stakeholders to take the opportunity and register their businesses, stressing that there are benefits attached to early registration.