The Former Director-General of National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NAMASA) and the Secretary-General, Abuja MoU on Port State Control for West and Central Africa, Mrs Mfon Ekong Usoro has said that absence of liability regime in Nigeria is impeding the progress and implementation of most of the dry port that have been prequalified and approved.

Mrs Usoro made this statement on Thursday, 5th July 2018, when speaking at the 15th Maritime seminar for Judges organized by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council & National Judicial Institute, in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

Mrs Usoro who spoke on the theme “Overview Of The Proposed Liability Regime For Inland Carriage Of Goods (Road, Rail, And Inland Waterways Transport) said it is important to have liability regime to regulate the inland carriage of goods in Nigeria.

She highlighted some areas that the liability regime will cover. According to her, a legal regime for liability will governor contracts, state, specifically the time frame in which it will cover the supply chain, the liabilities, obligations of the carrier and the sender, their limitations and compensations.

“Apart from the accidents that occur, the absence of liability regime leads to loss of lives, cargos, the uncertainty of the parties as to exposure, whether there is loss or damage. It leads to an- Non-standardized conditions of carriage, Arbitrariness in the cost of carriage and compensation because there is no law regulating it. It also leads to poor quality of services, freight crimes, unreliable data, economic loss,” she said.

Speaking further, Mrs. Usoro said that Nigerian Shippers Council has been instrumental in facilitating some of the Acts in Maritime but the council does not have a recognized company or agency which undertakes the registration of companies or people who are qualified and competent to engage in haulage services.

“The way now is to have a compulsory registration of carrier with a registering authority to register qualified and competent companies that wants to engage in commercial transportation. Drivers will be examined despite the fact that they have been licensed. The registering authority will conduct the fit and proper test to get answers to the clarity on the goods. They will also have enforcement powers for any company that breaches the provisions relating to the certificates of registration.

“The new regime will cover the contract of the carrier from when the carrier received the cargo to when it is delivered to the consignee or receiver. There will a consignment note in the new regime which will show some information as to the consignee, the sender, the cargo etc.

“The proposed liability regime for inland carriage will also provide extensively the liability of the carrier and sender, the loss, damage, and delay. It is also the responsibility of the sender to declare if the goods are dangerous and ensure that they are properly packed if dangerous. The carrier also has the right not to carry the good if he cannot undertake to bear the risk.

“The limitation period for legal action is one year. The stakeholder in Nigerian Shipper Council has not decided which court will have jurisdiction to try matters arising from Inland carriage,” Mrs Mfon said.

She added further that the burden of proof lies on the carrier that he was not negligent for the loss or damage that happened when the goods were in his custody. The offence could be criminal and could be civil.

She said that poor fastened stowed container are offences that will go to the benefits of the cargo owner.

“The proposed liability regime will cover insurance which will involve cargo, property and body harm,” she added.

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