23 March 2015, Lagos – Despite Federal Government’s declaration of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, as the Port Economic Regulator, there is still disagreement between the Council and the Nigerian Ports authority, NPA as to the constitutionally recognised body for the function.
The disagreement between the two government agencies resurfaced at the recently concluded awareness seminar titled “Monitoring and Compliance with Concession Agreements, Eight Years Post Concession,” organised by the management of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
While the NPA and some of the terminal operators seem to favour the performance of that function by the Port Authority, the Shippers council insisted that as the appointed federal government regulator it has the statutory right to perform the duty.
Matthew Egbadon, principal partner, Highfliers Solicitors, in a paper presented at the seminar, explained that the Concession Agreement empowers NPA to act as the regulator until a substantive one is appointed.
However, some representatives of terminal operators at the function said that they can only recognise NPA as the port economic regulator. Darbney Shallholma, Director Commercial Shipping Services of the NSC, said it is not right for NPA to undertake the duty of monitoring as it is a party in the agreement and therefore cannot perform the duty.
Shallholma noted that there is no clear definition of who the regulator is in the 2006 concession agreement and the ambiguity has left room for some form of disagreement as to who the regulator should be.
She further noted that the appointment of the Shippers’ council as the port economic regulator by the Federal Government is not an abnormally, since the agreement has provision for the action from the beginning.