The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has expressed dismay over issues of infringements as well as unnecessary interference in goods delivery processes at the seaports.
Such infringements and interference have impacted negatively in terms of cargo dwell time, increased charges for importers and extortion at the ports, according to the the ports economic regulator.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Emmanuel Jime who spoke at a two-day training for maritime police in Lagos recently said these issues were responsible for high prices of goods in the market as well as services in the country.
Jime who was represented on the occasion by the Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, NSC, Mrs Celine Ifeora, explained that the purpose of the seminar was to enforce compliance on regulation by all in the ports.
He disclosed that the target of the Council was to check corruption and ensure that cost of doing business was brought down.
He revealed that the intervention by the council led to the receipt of several reports from the users of port services, among them consignees, freight forwarders, haulers, about the incessant interference in the cargo clearance processes.
He said, “NSC collaborates with several agencies, including the maritime police to enforce compliance with the established standards, eliminate corruption and bring down costs of doing business in our ports.
“The intervention by the council led to the receipt of several reports from the users of port services (consignees, freight forwarders, haulers) about the incessant interference in the cargo clearance processes.
“The council had on several occasions carried out investigations on the matter to ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of the claims, and confirmed that these practices were carried out by various groups”.
The NSC boss disclosed that the outcome of its investigation was what promoted the collaboration with the Police authorities which led to addressing the complaints received.
He added that the Police authorities have taken some measures to address the issues leading to the appointment of some officers.
The appointed officers would ensure that due process was followed in case there was any need to request for re-inspection of goods following intelligence reports.
According to Jime, “With this in place, the NSC and Maritime Police Command recorded quite a lot of achievements.
“But we cannot rest on past achievements because some of these infractions still occur either deliberately or due to ignorance on the part of the officers involved”
He further said that among the decisions reached with the AIG , Maritime Police command was to build the capacity of the officers on port operations and the role of the police.
Among the roles of the marine police, Jime said, include enforcement of standards, put a stop to extortion and blocking of containers for ease of trade facilitation.
He frowned at a situation in which Nigerian ports were known for having the reputation of being among the ports with the longest cargo dwell time in the world.
He added, “While it takes only six hours to clear cargo in Singapore and about seven days in Lome, it takes an average of 21 days to do so in Nigeria.
“Long dwell time of cargo renders the ports inefficient, create congestions, increase the cost of doing shipping business and ultimately leads to the high price of goods and services in the economy.”
The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sunny Dagana while addressing officers who took part in the seminar said they should educate others on what they learnt.