By Isaac Anumihe
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) yesterday rated Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), low in the ports infrastructure.
In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant on media to the ANLCA National President, Mr. Joe Sanni, said these gaps were highlighted during an interactive meeting between ANLCA leadership and NPA executives.
“The interactive meeting with the NPA management centred on the subsisting infrastructural and systemic challenges being experienced by Customs Brokers and Agents, in the course of carrying out their businesses in the seaports across Nigeria.
“These operational challenges were, and still are: the completely broken down ports access roads, extortion by NPA’s security officials and maritime police, shipping companies and terminal operators insensitivity to the plight of agents and importers, touting and crowding in and around the ports; need for a strategic, structural solution in addressing controlled access into the ports; provision of close circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor operators/operations in the ports, etc.
“The National President of ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu reminded the NPA management that these same issues were placed before the MD/CEO of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, when she visited ANLCA headquarters early this year.
“Unfortunately, she is yet to fulfil her promise to holistically address the myriads of problems, persistently troubling the agents.
“The NPA MD/CEO, in company of officials of ANLCA and other agencies, undertook the inspection of ports access roads, where she experienced first-hand the challenges faced by ports operators. During the exercise, she promised to take up the matter with relevant authorities. Much as she attempted, going by media reports, the situation has still remained the same.” the statement, said.
The practice where shipping company operators do not indicate on the Equipment Interchange Report (EIR), where empty containers are to be dropped, was frowned at by the agents.
But the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of NPA, Alhaji Mohammed Bello-Koko who represented his MD, said that the civil service procurement and approval-seeking processes, were chief among the reasons why most of the problems have not been tackled. He, however, assured that the problems are being addressed accordingly.
Also, the General Manager, Operations of the NPA, Joshua Asanga requested for more information, especially regarding double standards of some terminal operators in granting several weeks of concessionary waivers on demurrages on cargoes to foreign importers, while depriving same to Nigerian importers. He said if the discriminatory practice is still going on, relevant information will be required to address it.