The Value News

NSC:Why Hassan Bello Must Go- NAGAFF

By Stephen Ubanna

In spite of efforts being made  by Hassan Bello, a Lawyer and Executive Secretary, Nigerian  Shippers Council, NSC,  to protect the interest of the  Nigerian shippers in major  trade routes across the world   as well as well help  reduce the road transport  haulage rate   of cargoes  within the country, over the last one year,  he appears to have attracted strong opposition   who are working endlessly  to facilitate his removal from office.

One of such groups which had turned   against him   was the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, under the close watch of Bonniface Anniebonnam. Acting on the mandate  of  the Association,   Godfrey . C.  Nwosu, the Tin can island Chapter, Secretary General, had petitioned Boss Mustapha, Secretary to government of the Federation on why Bello, the NSC, executive Secretary must go to restore  normalcy  to the nation’s maritime industry.

The NCMDLCA, petitioner, had catalogued the  sins of the NSC, boss ranging from abuse of office, mal- administration,   inability to enforce its  Constitutional responsibility as a Maritime Regulator to connivance with shipping companies and terminal operators to worsen  the financial  burden of shippers in major trading routes . This is in addition to his failure to control the road transport  haulage  rates  within the country .

Between April  and June  2019, Bello , may have gladdened the heart of shippers, when he master-minded the release of an indicative Freight Rate for “20’’ and ‘’40’’, Containers that could be charged by shipping  Companies on major trading International  routes to Nigeria. The agency had fixed the  freight rates of “20’’, Containers from Europe/Middle to Nigeria at  $1,638, North America/Canada, $3,091, Far East, China and Spain, $3,088 while Far East/India, Australia was placed at $3,835.

NSC Corporate Head Office, Apapa, Lagos

The freight rates which the shipping companies were also  asked to charge  the shippers for ‘’40’’ Containers were  said to be lower. This is evident going by the amount which the shipper was asked to pay if the ’’40’’ Containerised cargo is coming from Eurpe/Middle East, North America/ Canada, Far East, China and Spain or Far East, India and Australia to Nigeria.

  A document made available to the Value News shows that the agency had pegged the freight rates  for  these major trading routes at $2,611, $2,587, $1,836 and $1,758 respectively. The rates, according to a source, are subject to review quarterly.

Shippers had expected Bello to mobilise his operational Staff to enforce the freight rates  to ensure that the shipping Companies did not cheat the shippers but that was how far the agency could go. Bello was said to have further  played  into the hands of the NAGAFF, Tin can Chapter Executives,  to work for his removal from his  exalted position over the  approved new haulage charges for truckers from the Lagos seaports  and other ports  at the south eastern part of the country.

Recall that the NSC ,  boss, had said  the decision  was basically   to  have a comprehensive  and standard haulage rates for road  transportation services for Containers in the country. The new rates were said to have been presented to the industry stakeholders at a  Conference   in Lagos by Bello, the NSC boss. He was to have told  the industry  stakeholders that the rates,   described as “as ell structured and standardised , which  were benchmarks for the road haulage transport  are still subject to negotiation.

Rotimi Amaechi: Minister of Transportation

The Value News learnt  the  NSC, proposed new haulage rates   for trucks carrying cargoes from the Lagos seaports and other ports in the country to the various destinations across  the country, were approved at the Lagos Conference.

Nwosu, the Tin can Island NAGAFF, Chapter  Secretary General  had said  that the road haulage rates   which were proposed by the  agency  were totally at ‘’variance  with the reality on ground’’. The Association and other groups  including Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMARTO And National Union of Road Transport Workers were said to have made input  to the proposed rate but  it was said  to have been dumped by the agency.

Nwosu may have drawn the attention of Mustapha to this  when he  said   ‘’whatever  negotiations  that that had  been organised  by the NSC, Executive Secretary on the new road haulage rates had not yielded  any result’’, stating  that ‘’Clients of   the road haulage operators, particular, Freight Forwarders, are still  suffering  the spurious charges’ ‘begging for ministerial intervention.

The NCMDLCA, Tin Island Chapter, Secretary General, was said to have also made Mustapha the, the Secretary to the government, to understand in the Petition  that  Bello ‘’coordinated and sustained  the campaign  which gave the President the  impression that he has a  firm control of the nation’s maritime sector, and thus , gave the NSC,  the added  responsibility, as the Transport sector  economic regulator. An aggrieved  Nwosu said Bello and his agency had ’’performed dismally in that position’’. 

He alluded to the fact that the President had refused  to sign the proposed  National Transport Commission, NTC, bill,  sponsored by the Council  and which was said to have  been passed  by the National Assembly, into Law  since 2018,  because  some sections of the  bill  had  contained  Safety Regulations that duplicated  the function of other  existing agencies in the ministry of Transportation . 

Nwosu had concluded in the petition sent Mustapha, the Secretary to the government   that Bello had  made matters worse for stakeholders  as he supported  Hajia Bala Usman, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to divert ships from the Lagos ports to the south eastern ports.  He  disclosed  that  Bello had supported Hajia Usman to do so because he has ’’failed to resolve  the  multifaceted  problems  facing shippers and its  other cargo interests  at the Lagos ports’’.

According to him: the diversion  of the ocean going vessels  from the Lagos ports  to the south eastern ports had  come with its  attendant increment  in the ’’operational expenses already borne  by importers  with their agents, and which in turn are passed  on to Consumers’’. 

The NAGAFF, Tin can island  Chapter  Executive Council member , had also accused  Bello led NSC, of conniving with  shipping Companies  and terminal operators acting out nefariously  in their  respective Organisations and under the auspices  of trade Associations to gang up to ’ promote their selfish interests in unrelentlessly  fleecing  and seeking to impoverish  importers, exporters and agents’’.

Nwosu noted  that if Bello had been alive to his duties, he should have concerned himself with the vexatious  issue  of the shipping companies reneging  on refunding  on   deposits on empty Containers as soon it was returned  by the importer.

 ‘’We have  been  suffering  non-refunds  of the sums   in its entirety  or partial refunds  after duly  returning the empty Containers to the shipping companies. This may have informed why the leadership of the  NAGAFF, Tin Island Chapter, have stepped up their Campaign to force Bello out from NSC.

He gave  credit to Bello, the NSC boss, in the areas of ‘’summoning  incessant  stakeholders’ meetings , which deliberations  and conclusions end up  never being implemented’’.

Efforts to speak to speak to the NSC, helmsman proved abortive because of the OVID 19restrictions of movement in Lagos state by the government.

But whether Mustapha, the Secretary to the Federal government would act on the petition of the Council to take up the matter with the President to facilitate the removal of the Lawyer from NSC remain to be seen.  This is because he has power brokers that are behind him including Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transportation.     

Stephen Ubanna

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September 2021

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