The Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the economic regulator for the nation’s seaports has said that the Federal Government is more than ever committed to enhancing a conducive business environment as well as removing all hindrances to free trade in the country.

Many private sector operators the country including members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN, have been grappling with several economic challenges such as harsh exchange rate policy, poor infrastructure, high interest rate and inefficient port system that makes movement of cargo in and out of the ports difficult.

Executive Secretary /Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, who gave the assurance during a courtesy visit of the top management of the association at the weekend, said that the council was working towards evolving a system whereby shippers comprising importers, exporters and even members of MAN would not face difficulties in the process of transacting their various businesses at the nation’s seaports.

According to him, he cited programmes such as the Standards Operating Procedure SOP, which incorporates the Port Service Support Portal PSSP, stakeholders’ online information portal and the International Cargo Tracking Note ICTN are some of the measures put in place by the council in the past to address some of the hitches associated with cargo clearing in the country.

“Manufacturing, which is also the real sector, is a crucial segment of any economy, be it developed or developing country and any country that does not engage in manufacturing activities is not taken seriously anywhere. That is why in our engagement, we consider MAN as a key stakeholder without which we can’t execute our mandate. We have done a lot together. We were appointed as regulator so that our manufacturers face little or no hassles. We have realised that manufacturing is the heart beat of Nigeria’s economy and so we have intervened in various respects and at various times”, he said.

Bello also said: “We are working towards ensuring that prices are reasonable and competitive because a shipper has a choice where to take his cargo to… The cost of doing business is one of the substantial considerations… We are going to stabilize and make the cost come down together with the service providers”.

“I think these things will be curbed in no distant time. You see a lot of coming together, managing tariffs and eliminating arbitrariness in price fixing”.

While commending the group for its role in bringing its members together to influence the policy of government, he however disclosed that the Council has commenced talks with some service providers in the ports with a view achieving cost effective shipping services in the country in line with international best practice.

Meanwhile, leader of delegation Mr. John Aluya, who also spoke during the visit, told the Executive Secretary that the manufacturers are ready and willing to collaborate with council in order to enthrone a regime of efficient operations at the nation’s entry points.

He commended the council for it regulatory activities, which he said had brought about a measure of efficiency at the ports but however urged the management to further to strengthen its drive towards enhancing the ease of doing business at the ports to address the current un-conducive business, which would make the ports competitive.

Aluya, who is the representative of MAN on the governing board of the council pledged the support and cooperation of the manufacturers for the council in making the ports more user friendly and competitive.