Call for Shipping Regulatory Agency gains momentum at a public hearing 

Leah TwakiMay 27, 20244 min

Alabi highlighted the necessity of ensuring that shipping businesses remain in Nigeria to avoid losing them to more cost-effective ports in the region while advocating for the establishment of a shipping regulatory agency in the country.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas (APC Kaduna), and the Minister of Blue Economy, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, have voiced strong support for the establishment of a shipping regulatory agency in Nigeria.

The advocacy for this regulatory body was prominently featured during a public hearing on Monday concerning the Shipping Council’s repeal and the enactment of the Shippers’ Council and Economic Regulatory Bill. 

The event, held in Abuja, was organized by the House Committee on Shipping Services, Port and Harbor, Maritime Safety, Education, and Administration.

Abbas emphasized that the move to establish the regulatory agency was geared toward economic growth, development, and diversification, as well as strengthening the new ministry. 

According to him, this 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.

He added that it was also aimed at creating an enabling environment for private sector participation in the provision and operation of regulated services in Nigeria, amongst others. 

“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 offences and penalties, outlining specific non-compliance issues and their corresponding penalties,” he said.

Oyetola, represented by Oloruntola Olufemi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Blue Economy, echoed the Speaker’s sentiments. He noted that the establishment of the regulatory agency would significantly bolster the nation’s economy. “It would be a welcome development if the bill became an act,” Oyetola remarked.

Rep. Abdulsamad Dasuki (PDP Sokoto), Chairman of the Committee, assured that the legislative framework necessary to enact the bill would be provided, stating, “This proposal is aimed at providing the regulatory framework aimed at providing the enabling environment in Nigeria.”

The Shipping Line Association of Nigeria also endorsed the bill as Barr. Boma Alabi (SAN), Chairman of the Association, pointed out the economic disadvantages Nigeria faces due to high port costs compared to neighbouring countries. “Any act that will improve efficiency, lower cost, and reduce the bottleneck that we currently face will be most welcome,” she said. Alabi highlighted the necessity of ensuring that shipping businesses remain in Nigeria to avoid losing them to more cost-effective ports in the region.

Alabi, however, raised concerns about certain sections of the bill, suggesting that some provisions, like sections 40, 42, and 52, need to be reviewed to prevent potential abuses of power. “We need to put in some checks and balances so that those in the saddle will not abuse it,” she added.

Leah Twaki

A Chemistry graduate, excels as a social media manager, digital journalist, and content creator with an interdisciplinary skills blend of science and communication.

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