…Says agencies not allowed to execute their mandate
THE Maritime Advocacy and Action Group (MAAG) has accused politicians as well as some perceived powerful stakeholders in the Maritime sector of thwarting the efforts of some government agencies operating in the sector in carrying out the mandates given to them by the Acts establishing them.
Speaking in a telephone interview with Daily Champion, the National Coordinator of MAAG, Alhassan Dantata stated that with what was happening in the case between some freight forwarding associations in the maritime industry and the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) on one hand and the legal action instituted by the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) against the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on the other hand, it was obvious that efforts were on to disallow some government agencies from carrying out their mandates.
According to him,” there are lots of government agencies that are not allowed to execute their mandate in their Acts, like for instance, what is happening now with the Shippers’ Council and STOAN. STOAN took Shippers’ Council to the Court”.
“Shippers’ Council has been appointed to regulate the ports and the problem with the ports is that the cost of service delivery vis-à-vis the value of service delivered. So, when the NSC did their own investigations across Africa, from South Africa to the West Coast on port charges, they now communicated and had series of meeting with STOAN and the Shippers’ Council now came up with a new rate regime and because STOAN have been having a field day, they felt they cannot be regulated anymore. So, they now went to Court”.
Dantata further said that the same was what SON was passing through in the hands of some freight forwarding association who felt that SON was standing in their way of having to import substandard products into the country.
“But we have now sidelined the issue of quality control; allow smugglers to bring in goods with impunity, substandard goods into Nigeria. That is also destroying our own manufacturers; manufacturing is dying because cheaper and substandard products are coming with impunity”.
“Unfortunately so, some of the clearing and forwarding agencies are owned by the officials of other government agencies, so, how can an armed robber arrest himself?” he queried.
He added that what MAAG was doing was to sensitize the government on the unfortunate situation and for government to redesign the way forward or scrap SON as according to him, “there is no point, SON is not allowed in the ports, they were accused of delaying goods from being released from the ports, but since they left the ports three years ago, the situation has worsened now. Yes! It is even worse from what it was in 2011”.
While calling attention to this ugly trend, he called on the government to intervene and save the situation so as to enable some of these agencies perform optimally.
He however advised all parties in the suit between STOAN and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council not to do anything that would jeopardize the judicial process saying that all parties should wait for the outcome of the court before any further step should be taken to avoid over heating the polity.
Maritime Microfinance Bank gets CBN approval to commence operation
Following approval granted it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a new financial institution, the Maritime Microfinance Bank will formally commence operation on Monday 1st December 2014.
The Maritime MFB is the first financial institution fully dedicated to servicing the maritime industry in Nigeria.
A Director and Promoter of the new bank, Mr. Bolaji Akinola said the Maritime Microfinance Bank has been set up to fill a yawning gap within the financial services industry by offering small loans, or micro-loans, to maritime industry operators and workers who are unable to access conventional loan services.
“This is the starting point for us. We are embarking on a revolution in the provision of financial solutions for the maritime industry. We are starting as a unit micro-finance bank but our vision is to evolve into a full fledge commercial bank fully dedicated to the growth and development of the maritime industry.
“The birth of the Maritime MFB is a culmination of several years of research and team work between several well-meaning people who are passionate about growing the maritime industry,” he said.
He said the Maritime Microfiance Bank will use small and microloans to develop small businesses based on their existing talents and skill sets.
“Dockworkers, freight forwarders, truckers, port workers, staff of private companies and government organisations who mostly have challenges accessing small loans can now heave a sigh of relief as the bank for them has finally come.
“Access to finance is an invaluable element that brings growth and development to any sector of the economy. It also helps in realizing full economic capabilities of the people.
“As part of the agenda for full development of the maritime sector, access to finance has been identified by the stakeholders in the industry as one of the key elements that needs to be considered,” Akinola, who is also the CEO of Ships & Ports Communication Company stated.
He said the Maritime Microfinance Bank will build exceptional value for its clients by demonstrating incomparable care for their needs and increasing their financial wealth by providing tailored solutions to meet their financial needs and protecting their assets.
“We are deploying the latest banking technology and have developed very exceptional financial solutions that will help our clients grow.
“These are in addition to the regular banking products which include Savings Account, Current Account, Salary Account and Cooperative Account among others,” he said.
He said micro, small and medium enterprises in the maritime industry can now easily access loan facilities to grow their businesses through the Maritime MFB.