Cargo handling: Amaechi to chair town hall meeting

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Against the backdrop of a recent audit report revealing that private terminal operators in Nigerian ports lost about N58.9bn to the foreign exchange scarcity, Consumer Price Index, among others, in eight years, a one-day town hall meeting on “Cargo Handling and Port Charges” will hold in Lagos to evaluate the state of port operations, quality of services and the factors that determine appropriate cargo handling charges.

The meeting scheduled for March 8 will be chaired by the Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and will feature stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and her Industry, Trade and Investment counterpart, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, will be special guests of honour, according to a statement by its organisers.

Among the subjects slated for discussion are: the level of competitiveness of Nigerian ports, templates for port pricing, availability and efficiency of cargo handling equipment, impact of foreign exchange and government’s fiscal policies and abuse of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme Protocol by shippers.

The statement issued by the Publisher of Business and Maritime West Africa, Mr. Okey Ibeke, indicated that since the concession of the ports to private terminal operators over 10 years ago, Nigeria’s economy had undergone fundamental changes characterised by exchange rate vagaries and fiscal policy reviews that had impacted substantially on the level of service delivery at the ports.

“Importers, manufacturers and other port users alongside service providers have a lot of outstanding issues the failure of which to resolve has affected the growth of the industry. These issues will be addressed at the town hall meeting with policymakers and users of shipping services all poised to make their case,” Ibeke stated.

Some of those expected as discussants and lead presenters were private terminal operators; heads and managers of shipping agencies, chambers of commerce, trade groups, freight forwarding firms and banks.

Industry regulators such as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority as well as marine transport committees of both arms of the National Assembly would be part of the programme, it added.

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