Corruption, regulatory inconsistencies worsening the cost of operating ports | The Guardian Nigeria News

Ports of Lagos. Photo: VOLANT

• Cargo to Nigeria paying double insurance charges, according to LCCI

Corruption, weak reforms, regulatory inconsistencies, duplication and overlapping of functions increase the cost of transactions in the country’s seaports.

These are submissions from stakeholders in the maritime sector at the inaugural meeting of the Business Action Against Corruption Integrity Alliance (BAAC) held in Lagos.

They said that despite the opportunities in the maritime industry in terms of trade facilitation, poor law enforcement, lack of transparency and unfavorable government policies remain major challenges for the industry’s development.

The president of the Maritime Group, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Aminu Umar, lamented that Nigerian shipowners face many challenges, ranging from multiple approval processes to payment process issues.

According to him, around five approvals are required from different agencies to bring dry and wet cargoes into the country through the ports.

The agencies he cited were the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Navy.

He lamented that the unloading of cargoes in a port different from the one initially planned was practically impossible, as this would require a new payment.

According to Umar, such an arrangement should be avoidable since the port is a single entity. He said the services should be made possible in one of the ports since the same authority manages them.

“If you look at the payment process in ports today, for example, if your ship is supposed to dock in the port of Apapa and cannot due to congestion, and you want to dock in Tincan, the process approval, if you have made a payment, is not possible. Or if you want to move from Lagos to Port Harcourt because your clients are there – to avoid a 10 day delay, that is not possible if you have made the payment and it means you have lost the payment.

“You will need to make another payment and this is not supposed to be the case as the port is a single entity and once you have made the payment to the authority you should be able to use their services in any of their ports, ”he said.

He said the challenges were losses for the shipowners while causing psychological trauma to the crews of the ships, with some of them dying in the process.

The LCCI boss further urged government agencies to consider safety and security issues as one of the main issues causing many losses and delays, especially high insurance on cargoes bound for Nigeria.

He said that Nigeria being considered a war risk zone, ships and cargo owners pay double insurance than any other country in the world.

“The moment your vessel crosses Nigeria’s 200 nautical miles, you will immediately be debited with double insurance,” he said.

Program Director, Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), Emmanuel Bosah, said that over the years, users and operators of Nigerian ports have faced persistent challenges and administrative bottlenecks, including many have really hampered the ease of doing business.

He said infrastructure issues, regulatory inconsistencies, duplication of roles and overlapping functions by a myriad of government agencies all make working in Nigerian ports difficult and expensive.

Bosah said that based on this understanding, there is a need to strategically place an Integrity Alliance Steering Committee at the forefront to support reforms and strengthen the voice and collective action needed to improve transparency, accountability and operational efficiency in the country’s ports, thus prioritizing profitability. .

He said the plan for this Integrity Alliance is that over time the collective efforts and successes of stakeholders will enable port users to demand, track and ensure greater compliance in Nigerian ports.

He said it would also help build the government’s capacity to establish compliance systems and collaboration between business, government and civil society.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said there was a need for a collective action approach to tackle corruption and promote integrity in the Nigerian maritime sector,

Owasanoye, who was represented by ICPC Deputy Commissioner Jimoh Sulahiman, said the maritime industry represents a gold mine for Nigeria in terms of trade and mineral resources.

He said that with an economy largely dependent on imports, seaports, which are a means of moving goods around the world, undoubtedly play an important role in the socio-economic development of coastal countries like Nigeria.

He said that, unfortunately, inefficiencies at ports resulting from integrity breaches, official collusion and poor law enforcement not only discourage trade, but also remain hostile to the health of the country’s economic activities. Nigeria.

Owasanoye, noted that vessel / cargo turnaround time (TAT) was a key measure of port efficiency and a basis for measuring port performance, adding that time has serious implications for shipping.

He said the ICPC has intervened in the challenges that have hampered port operations since 2012, disinfecting ports from corruption and corrupt elements, infusing ethics and integrity in port processes, mitigating impacts negatives of lack of integrity in international trade and in favoring the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Politics.

According to him, the ICPC was able to succeed in this intervention mainly thanks to the spirit of reform and the zero tolerance policy on corruption carried out by the government and its agencies in the ports.

Owasanoye added that the Nigerian government has also stood up to alleviate pervasive official inefficiency, mismanagement, lack of integrity and corruption at its ports.

For his part, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime, urged maritime actors to adopt the many reforms put in place to help give meaning to the port system.

Jime, who was represented by NSC Director Moses Fadipe, listed some of the reforms to include, Port Service Support Portal (PSSP), Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) and Advanced Cargo Tracking System. .
He did, however, task the Integrity Committee to monitor and help promote current reforms and initiatives that would improve port processes.

Those who have been inaugurated in the committee are Aminu Umar as chairman; President, Lagos State Shippers Association (SALS), Jonathan Nicole as Vice President and Registrar, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Academy, Francis Omotosho, as Treasurer.

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