- A cargo vessel
By Anthony Nwachukwu
Nigerian ports will reap immense benefits if the relevant federal agencies implement the joint vessel inspection initiative being championed by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, has said.
Bello, speaking during a virtual media briefing co-organised by the NSC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), listed the gains to include lower vessel dwell time, fewer cases of extortion, faster cargo clearance and evacuation, and the ports attaining global best practices.
Bello, who noted improved compliance by some agencies since the implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), however, regretted that others were not yet fully complying.
According to him, a situation where vessels call at the port and always have to wait for about three hours before the arrival of boarding and inspection officials increases cargo dwell time and increases cost of doing business at the port.
Therefore, he appealed to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other relevant agencies to adopt the joint inspection initiative in order to reduce vessel dwell time from the current 21 days.
According to him, “seven-day cargo dwell time can be achieved if we have joint boarding of vessels and joint inspection of cargo.
“What kind of country or port do we want if agencies responsible for joint examination don’t report on time? Examination of cargo should be done at a given time, and people should abide by the SOP as far as clearance of cargo is concerned.”
Bello, who disclosed that the NSC recovered the sum of $20,000 bribe from officials who board and inspect vessels at the Nigerian ports, vowed that henceforth, the agency would name and shame government officials demanding bribe and frustrating the joint effort.
On their part, the ICPC Spokesperson, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, who represented the chairman, disclosed that the commission has set up a task team to sanction agencies or officials who flout the SOP for joint boarding of vessels.
“Part of our mandates as a law enforcement agency is to tackle corruption. We have a standing task team at the Lagos Port that will enforce sanction provided by the NSC,” she explained.