From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Nigerian Shippers Council has hinted of its readiness to provide free services to those in the air, water, rail and road transportation businesses across the country.
The Shippers Council after an extensive deliberation on the challenges confronting exporters and importers of goods in the transportation industry during its annual meeting held in Lokoja yesterday, vowed to protect and defend activities in the sector as well as providing free legal services to them.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of its meeting which was made available to journalists in Lokoja.
The communique explained that what is required of this category of businessmen and women in the state is to be duly registered with Kogi State Shippers’ Association on whose platform members are recognised and assisted to grow.
The meeting resolved that there is urgent need for formidable synergy between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Government and Kogi State Shippers’ Association to create opportunities for maximising the abundant mineral and agricultural resources of the confluence state for the benefits of the people.
It also stressed the urgent need to integrate Kogi State into the export – related businesses that require close collaboration between government and the organized private sector which include Kogi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KOCCIMA), Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) and a host of others.
The communique further hinted that the membership of Kogi State Shippers’ Association has been reactivated and strengthened to benefit owners of small and medium-sized companies in terms of accessing support services as well as protecting the investments of Nigerian shippers against foreign exploitation and arbitrary charges of shipping service providers.
The meeting equally resolved that membership of Kogi State Shippers’ Association is opened to all businessmen and women and prospective importers and exporters of which membership forms are obtained at the Secretariat of Kogi State Shippers’ Association
The communique also disclosed that a four-day training workshop is being planned by Kogi State Shippers’ Association in collaboration with a leading consulting firm on e-commerce, import and export businesses in Nigeria in June this year to enable those in agricultural processing and manufacturing companies to key into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).
It stressed the urgent imperative in the face of the diversification of the economy to embrace the need for establishment of Export Processing Hub in Kogi State, where members of shippers’ association can engage in various trades and value addition to agricultural commodities, including food processing, manufacturing, fabrication of iron and steel products, exportable art, crafts, fashion designs. Such Export Processing Hub will help local businessmen to benefit from common infrastructure and consequently add value to exportable goods in the ever competitive export businesses.
The meeting also resolve that Kogi State has all the potentials to be placed on the same pedestal with Abia, Lagos, Ogun and Kano States if government at all levels give support to business men who are willing to go into processing agricultural goods and add value to exportable items.
The meeting therefore called on those who took loans from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure prompt repayment as non performance of such loans especially as it affects Kogi state indigenes, may affect the future chances of genuine farmers and other businessmen and women. There are indications that the increasing army of defaulters may hinder prospective applicants from the state despite new and numerous opportunities in CBN.