As the seven agencies ordered to vacate the nation’s seaports reluctantly quit, importers and clearing agents have heaved a sigh of relief over the ended regime of multiple charges and touting.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), on Wednesday, ordered seven agencies out of the ports while another seven received the nod to stay on. The development is a direct fallout of the Executive Order on the ease of doing business at the seaports signed recently by the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, listed the approved agencies as NPA, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Ports Health.
The Guardian’s investigations revealed that some of the agencies are adamant, while others are reluctantly exiting the seaports, while touts are being chased out of the ports area.
Indiscriminate parking of trucks around Lagos ports is also being discouraged, even though roads leading to the facilities are still very much in a bad shape, traffic congestion remains a constant headache.
Some agencies that have been given the boot, include Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON); Port Quarantine Services; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), among others.
Meanwhile, the NDLEA has immediately challenged the decision, claiming it was authorised to operate within the country’s ports. Head of Public Affairs of NDLEA, Ofoyeju Mitchell, quoted the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, as affirming that the agency has the presidential mandate to work at seaports.
He said: “NDLEA has been cleared by the Presidency to work at the seaports. This official position must be respected by all port agencies and stakeholders. Attempts to violate this directive shall be considered as a conspiracy to advance the nefarious activities of drug cartels to the detriment of our national security.
“It should be noted that section 8 (1b) of the NDLEA Act clearly states that the agency shall work in collaboration with the Nigerian Customs Services in monitoring the movement of goods and persons in any customs area, customs stations, customs ports or customs airports and searching cargoes and incoming and outgoing vessels, including pleasure craft and fishing vessels as well as aircraft and vehicles and, when appropriate, searching crew members, passengers and their baggage,” he argued.
The National Publicity Secretary, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Stanley Ezenga, said the inefficiency and lapses on the part of the affected agencies necessitated their eviction.
“In the instance wherein the leadership of NAFDAC, NDLEA, Port Health Services and others may not have visited the ports formally with a view to seeing things themselves and to ascertain how effective their representatives are performing at the ports, is most regrettable. The prevalence of fake, adulterated and fake products in our markets entering through our ports should have attracted the NAFDAC leadership to the ports with a view to conferring with critical stakeholders as to the best way to stem the tide. Modern day administration is predicated on the principle of Public Private Partnership (PPP), with a view to achieving government objectives in its mandate for a greater Nigeria,” Ezenga stated.
He continued: “And for emphasis, it is regrettable that the head of a government organisation will sit in the comfort of his/her office in Abuja and issue policies without finding out and seeing things for his/herself at the ports. It is most unfortunate and regrettable,” he said.
Ezenga, who alleged that the sack was “a clear sabotage to the expected productivity under the mantra of “change” of the present administration, called on Buhari to be circumspect and diligent in appointing people into responsible positions if he must succeed in reordering the economy.
Meanwhile, the NPA, yesterday, reiterated that it would enforce the Presidential Executive Order concerning the 24-hour operations at the nation’s seaports.Principal Manager, Public Affairs of the outfit, Ibahim Nasiru, in a statement said: “We wish to categorically state that the Federal Government had earlier in 2011 streamlined the operations of the agencies at the ports with the view to ensuring swift customer service delivery in the area of efficient clearance of cargoes.
“In this regard therefore, the management of the NPA wishes to unequivocally state that any other agency that has not been listed in the above … in line with this Presidential Order should henceforth vacate operating from within the premises of the nation’s seaports,” adding that when required, these other agencies would be notified accordingly.The management of the NPA therefore, solicits for strict compliance from all agencies and stakeholders concerning this directive.”