‘Multiple government agencies cause confusion at ports’

Container stacking area at the port.

Container stacking area at the port.

The overzealous attitude of officials of numerous government agencies at the Nigerian ports has become a source of worry, as the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), berates duplication of regulations and clash of interests by the agencies.

The Freight forwarders, in a statement made available to The Guardian alleged that the agencies operate outside their mandates as stipulated in the various Acts establishing them, thereby frustrating the importers and clearing agents.

The statement signed by the Secretary General, NAGAF, Arthur Igwilo said the maritime industry desperately needs sanity especially now that revenue from crude oil had dropped drastically.The group applauded the Standard Operating Procedure and Port Services Support Portal introduced by the Federal Government recently, aimed at entrenching standardisation in port operations in Nigeria.

It stated that: “Over the years, people just find their ways into the ports under different guises and start extorting money from port users. For example, when a vessel arrives, one finds out that five or more agencies will be forcing their ways into the vessel, even to the chagrin of the crew members whose vessel may have berthed at other organised ports before Nigeria.

“Whereas, there were supposed to be only two agencies authorised internationally to go onboard. Nigeria indeed, is always seen as a banana republic by the international community because of the way we run our socio-economic and political lives.

“The Nigeria Customs Service arbitrarily gives itself revenue targets officially and unofficially. The official revenue targets are declared
publicly, but unofficial revenue targets are for their personal purses,” it alleged.

NAGAF stated that: “Other agencies and parastatals of government in the ports like Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) among others, operate outside their mandates as stipulated in the various acts establishing them. Infact, it has been a whole lot of confusion in the ports and their environment.

“This ensuing confusion over the years have been capitalised on, to rip off port users, consequently, this makes Nigerian ports most expensive and unfriendly in sub Saharan Africa,” it stated.

The group however added that huge sums of money have been lost both by governments and individuals due to the insidious actions of the officials, adding that standardisation is the panacea to the ongoing confusion in the ports.

“Standardisation expectedly shall engender sanity as experienced in other economies and at the same time eliminate corruption and its tendencies in port operation. It should be applied in every facet of port operation,” it stated.Besides, it alleged that different portals are being created by different agencies and parastatals.

“For example, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has their exclusive portal that is being used to implement guidelines on importing new goods tagged: Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP). It verifies the conformity of all imported new goods, enforces their standards except those items that appear in excluded product list. Another example is Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). They have their portal called, the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS). It is utilized for PAAR issuance, cargo identification, interface with SON, shipping companies, terminal operators among others to achieve seamless cargo delivery.

“We are aware that more agencies are establishing their portals for their services. Therefore, we advocate that at the fullness of time an integrated/ central portal should be established to coordinate various portals. This will achieve harmony and standardisation in the port operation. Indeed, it is becoming clearer that the veil in port operation is being opened. The rate of dynamism in ports is being enhanced,” it stated.

In this article:
Arthur IgwiloNAGAF


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