Clearing agents score NPA boss low on ports development
Clearing agents under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), yesterday scored the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman below average in ports infrastructure development.
Senior Special Assistant on Media to the ANLCA National President, Joe Sanni, in a statement, said nothing had changed in the ports system after the many promises made by Bala-Usman in January.
In view of current developments, Sanni said the clearing agents had a meeting with the NPA management, which centred on the subsisting infrastructural and systemic challenges being experienced by Customs Brokers and Agents, in the course of carrying out their businesses in the seaports across Nigeria.
He said: “These operational challenges were, and still are, the completely broken down ports access roads; extortion by NPA security officials and Maritime Police; shipping companies and terminal operators insensitivity to the plight of agents and importers. Others are touting and crowding in and around the ports; need for a strategic, structural solution in addressing controlled access into the ports; provision of CCTV cameras to monitor operators/operations in the ports among others.
“The National President, ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu, reminded the NPA management that these same issues were placed before Bala-Usman, when she visited ANLCA headquarters early this year. Unfortunately, she is yet to fulfil her promise to holistically address the myriads of problems, persistently troubling Agents.
“Recently, the NPA boss in company of officials of ANLCA and other agencies, undertook the inspection of ports access roads, where she experienced first-hand the challenges faced by ports operators. During the exercise, she promised to take up the matter with relevant authorities. Much as she attempted, going by media reports, the situation has still remained the same.”
The agents also criticised the practice where shipping companies and operators do not indicate on the Equipment Interchange Report (EIR), where empty containers are to be dropped.
Responding to the aggrieved agents, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, cited the civil service procurement and approval processes as parts of the reasons most of these problems have not been tackled, but assured that they were being addressed accordingly.
The General Manager, Operations, NPA, Joshua Asanga, requested for more information, especially regarding the allegation double standards by some terminal operators, who grant weeks of concessionary waivers on demurrages on cargoes to foreign importers, but deprive same to Nigerian importers.
He said if the discriminatory practice is still going on, relevant information will be required to address it.