Abbas, Oyetola seek regulatory agency for shipping

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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen and Minister of Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola have stressed the need to establish a regulatory agency that will regulate the shipping industry in Nigeria.

Both the Speaker and the Minister spoke just as Shipping Line Association of a Nigeria said such an agency will help strengthen the industry and save it from collapse.

Speaking at a public hearing on a bill to repeal and re-enact the Shippers’ Council and Economic Regulatory Bill, Abbas said the move to establish the agency was geared toward enhancing economic growth, development, and diversification, as well as strengthening the new ministry.

He said the re-enactment seeks to ensure that the proposed agency establishes an economic regulatory framework for effective and efficient regulation of commercial and related activities in the shipping and port sectors and to create an enabling environment for private sector participation in the provision and operation of regulated services in Nigeria, amongst others.

He said: “The amended bill encompasses critical provisions addressing several key areas essential for the effective functioning of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

“It details the structure and responsibilities of the management and staff, establishing a clear governance framework that defines roles and qualifications to ensure competent oversight.

“The bill lays out financial provisions, specifying guidelines for the allocation, management, and auditing of funds, which is crucial for maintaining financial integrity and providing the Council with the necessary resources to perform its duties.

“The bill also addresses offenses and penalties, outlining specific non-compliance issues and their corresponding penalties”

While canvassing the need to establish the regulatory agency, Oyetola said it would improve the nation’s economy.

Represented by his Permanent Secretary, Oloruntola Olufemi, the Minister said it would be a welcome development if the bill became an act.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Shipping Services, Abdulsamad Dasuki promised to provide the legislative framework that would allow the bill to become an act.

“This proposal is aimed at providing the regulatory framework aimed at providing the enabling environment in Nigeria.”

In their presentation, the Shipping Line Association of Nigeria made a strong case for the establishment of the agency, saying it would improve efficiency and lower cost.

Chairman of the Association, Barr Boma Alabi (SAN) said that any act that will improve efficiency, lower cost, and reduce the bottleneck that we currently face will be most welcome.

Boma said the Nigeria Port cost the country twice as much as others in the region, such as the Benin Republic, adding that there was a need to ensure that shopping businesses did not move away from Nigeria.

“We must be more efficient, and we welcome this regulatory agency that will be created to make things more efficient.

“We have expressed our concern internally and externally, and this committee, which has been involved in this process, must work on some areas of concern.

“There are aspects that should be expunged, like sections 40, 42, 52, and a few others; we understand the reason behind this.

“We need to put in some checks and balances so that those in the saddle will not abuse it.”

The public hearing was jointly organised by the House Committee on Shipping Services, Port and Harbor, Maritime Safety, Education, and Administration in Abuja.

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