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Port operators flay rulers, youths for defending regulators on accidents

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• Say N500m cargoes are lost
• Demand full compensation to cargo owners

Port operators have expressed displeasure over a Lagos barge accident that has attracted traditional rulers and youths from Apapa and Onne Port, stating that it is gradually drifting to politics.

They stated this in response to the agitations of Apapa and Onne port community youths, who defended the heads of government agencies involved in the regulation of the barge operations and waterways, especially as the port operators called for their resignation, which was countered by the youths.

The youths, under the aegis of the United Apapa Youths Forum and Onne/Ikpokiri Youths Council, warned the port operators for holding the heads of government agencies responsible for any barge accident in the Lagos waterways.

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Six groups of stakeholders at the port converged last week on Apapa to berate the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for the recent barge accident that saw over N500 million worth of cargo lost.

The groups included Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS), Ndigboamaka Progressive (Traders) Associations, the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria APFFLON, the Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarders Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON), the Justice and People the Care Foundation and the Sea Empowerment and Research Centre.

President of SAL, Jonathan Nicol, who spoke on behalf of the groups, said while agitations were instruments to checkmate laxities and failures, noticeable failed economic regulatory policies ought to be corrected.

Nicol said this in a rejoinder titled: “RE: Apapa, Onne Port Community Youths Defend NPA, NIMASA Heads,” which was made available to The Guardian.

He said trading platforms and businesses had to be seriously protected and properly regulated, noting that it was from their collective taxes paid to the government that the funding of the various institutions was sustained.

Nicol said where the main objectives of institutions were threatened, it would become a major threat to human existence.

“Trading is our source of livelihood. We employ millions of Nigerians, train them, and provide support for them and their families,” he said.

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