Shippers Council decries worsening corruption in Lagos ports, says staff’s lives in danger

• Saves Nigeria N3.2b in demurrage cost

By Anthony Nwachukwu

The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Emmanuel Jime, has raised an alarm over the worsening rate of corruption at the Lagos ports, alleging that some members of staff of the agency have been attacked by some unnamed perpetrators.

Jime told newsmen in Lagos: “We are engaged in a fight that no agency of government has ever been engaged in. We are fighting in a territory where the challenge is more than what anyone can ever imagine.

Giving example with the agency’s National Coordinator, Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), Moses Fadipe, he explained that “the lives of Moses Fadipe and his team are in danger because they are fighting against a corrupt system that has been here for a very long time.

“Please, help us. Kindly help us shine light on happenings along the port corridor. We have to rid the port of the endemic corruption that has gone up to a level anybody can ever imagine.”

He listed the PSTT’s cardinal areas as Joint Vessel Boarding, Joint Cargo Examination, and Operation Free Port Access Roads.

According to him, its activities on joint vessel boarding by mandated government agencies saved the Nigerian economy an average vessel demurrage of $20,000 per day ($6, 540, 000 or N3.3 billion) between 2020 and 2021.

In the area of complaints handling and resolution, the NSC “in 2021 received and handled 518 complaints, while in the first quarter of 2022 100 complaints were received and handled,” he disclosed.

“The council in 2021 was able to recover the sum of N1.1 billion while in the first quarter of 2022, stakeholders were saved the sum of N18. 49 million. The council is currently working on compilation and analysis of complaints handled in the second quarter of 2022.

“Likewise, the average time for resolving complaints with regards to vessel infractions has considerably reduced from seven to10 days to one to four hours,” Jime said. “Over 85 per cent of vessels that called at Nigerian ports in 2021 left without any incident, which was not the case in times past.

“As regards compliance with joint cargo examination by all government agencies involved in cargo clearance, the exercise has helped to increase the number of cargoes examined per day from 125 to an average of 230 boxes daily per terminal.

“In summary, the implementation of the PSTT manual has facilitated the ease of doing business in our ports and has drastically reduced corruption tendencies.”

Pressed on the identities of the attackers, Jime said he could not mention names, adding that “it was entirely about corruption fighting back, and that the more he tried to intervene, the more he had to fight being compromised.

“I was surprised that at the level of my intervention, I was almost getting into a compromised level. It’s like I was reporting someone to his benefactor,” he lamented. “What I have decided is that we must fight this corruption at the ports.

“We found out that most of these other ranks (security officials) don’t just wake up in the morning to go and mount checkpoints, they have superior officers that they make returns to. That is why all the previous interventions by previous administrations failed.

“This is the magnitude of the problem concerning corruption at the ports. We will fight it the best way we can. We will ensure people are held accountable for their actions and the work of the PSTT will continue.”

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