· But firms fear hacking, glitches may occur
·As Nigerian Shippers Council says automated registration would sanitise the ports
By Helen Ugo Chimezie
The Shippers Council of Nigeria (SCN) has mounted one of its biggest awareness campaigns, this time to create huge awareness for companies at the ports to migrate to an online and digital registration aimed at upping the game at the ports in Nigeria.
As part of efforts to ensure a smooth transition from a manual to a fully automated registration system, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Thursday held a stakeholders meeting to enlighten stakeholders about the newly launched online registration portal, as well as unveil the User Guide for further insights.
Addressing participants at the meeting which held in Port Harcourt, the Executive Secretary of the Council, Emmanuel Jime, who was represented by the Director in Charge of Consumers Affairs in the Council, Agu Cajetan Chukwuemeka.said: “This is one of the series of sensitization seminars that the Council organized for service providers, users and other stakeholders in the sector on the need to register with the Council and benefits to be derived from the registration.”
He stated that as they transition from manual to a completely automated registration platform, the launch of the online registration platform is a significant milestone. He disclosed that the platform is interactive in nature as physical interface is eliminated. “From your desk in your office, you can register your company online without having to visit any Council office as long as you fulfill the requirements and make the necessary payments,” he added.
The Council Secretary added that “the registration exercise is in various categories and attracts a token fee as the motive is not to generate revenue. It is mandatory for all service providers and users to register and obtain a certificate of registration before they can be adjudged as legally operating at the nation’s seaports. It is therefore important to register with the NSC to avoid applicable sanctions.
“Registration provides the Economic Regulator a database of service providers that are genuine as well as shippers and other stakeholders operating in our Port System. This will enable the industry to operate in a safe and secure business environment and eliminate the challenges of faceless stakeholders in the port system.”
Speaking further, the Director in Charge of Consumers Affairs in the Council, Agu Cajetan Chukwuemeka told journalists that the migration from physical registration to online registration will reduce time, cost and it is equally in line with the economic regulatory law, which makes it compulsory for all regulated port service providers and users to register with Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
The President Rivers/ Bayelsa Shippers Association (RIBASA), Ofon Udofia on his part said: “The Portal will help in Know Your Customers (KYC). It will help to make Nigerian shippers, both importers and exporters and other people operating in the ports to have a sense of belonging”.
Udofia revealed that the online registration portal will be a one-stop shop to verify shippers and find out which shipping line to use. He also reiterated that the platform is user friendly and will help remove physical interference, as stakeholders can register from their office and obtain their certificate. It will also give the opportunity to enjoy other facilities that are offered by the RIBASA and the Shippers Council at large, as well as reduce touting at the ports.
Amidst the benefits, some of the participants at the event however, expressed worries over the safety measures put in place to avoid the system from being hacked and the glitches associated with online registration. They also faulted the registration fees and categorization of shipping lines and shipping agencies on the portal, which they termed to be unjust. They appealed that the registration fees for indigenous shipping agencies be revealed downward.
Nevertheless, participants were assured that the necessary security measures have been put in place to prevent hacking of the platform, and that the Shippers Council office is open to resolving challenges encountered while using the platform.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council as an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria is saddled with the responsibility of protecting exporters and importers in Nigeria, as well as their goods.