Stakeholders seek urgent intervention in eastern ports
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have called for Federal Government’s intervention to make the seaports situated in the Eastern parts of Nigeria to be more attractive for port users.
To this end, they demanded an increase in incentives provided for those using the Eastern ports, pointing out that current incentives are not good enough to attract port users.
Recall that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), had in June this year approved a 10 per cent discount on harbour dues in all concession terminals in the Eastern ports, in efforts to increase patronage at the harbours.
The stakeholders also called for sanctions against those who violate the rules of the game in the cargo chain clearance, saying that impunity has become the bane of the maritime industry because no one is ever punished for violating the rules.
Stakeholders at a one-day roundtable organised by the Maritime Anti-corruption Network (MACN), in conjunction with the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), said there is a need to ensure effective and efficient service delivery in Nigeria’s seaports.
Speaking on the theme, “Towards Standard Operating Procedures That Works in Nigeria’s Sea Ports and Terminals,” the Chief Executive Officer of CBI, Soji Apampa, said the challenge of gratification and maritime corruption remain the bane of effective and efficient service delivery at the ports over the years, emphasizing the use of port service support portal.
Deputy Director, Complaints Unit of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Moses Fadipe, pointed out that the support portal would help to submit and track complaints, and recalled that the portal was launched in June 2017 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said apart from poor infrastructure at the ports, other challenges identified include time and cost of doing business at the docks, agencies and terminal operators inefficiency, government official documentation, berthing of ships and discharge of cargo processes.
He noted that other challenges relate to the inefficiency of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) personnel that operate at the nation’s seaports.
An anti-corruption crusader, Vebek Menon, noted that so far only five cases had been reported through the portal and that the issues raised would be addressed without prejudice.
Former National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Ernest Elochukwu, in his contribution, wondered why government could not fashion out ways to stop corruption in the maritime sector, and why there are no harsh consequences for failure to deliver.
Elochukwu, who represented the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) at the round table, argued that as long as there are no consequences for violations of the rules of engagements in the cargo clearance chain, impunity would continue to rein in the maritime industry.