The Acting Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Musa Abubakar has emphasised the need for relevant government agencies operating at the port to carry out joint inspection of ships at berth to actualize government’s ease of doing business initiative.
Abubakar, who made this known when he led a joint team from the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Commission on a courtesy visit to the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Thursday, noted that joint inspection will aid the turnaround time of vessels at the port.
Represented by the Director, Public Enlightenment of the Commission, Rashidat Okoduwa; the ICPC boss said activities in the ports will no longer be business as usual for operators and others who are yet to comply with the ease of doing business initiative.
NIMASA Director-General, Dakuku Peterside, while receiving the delegation, said government agencies must be conscious of their activities in order to create a positive image for the country.
He said, “We must be conscious of our international image because people who do business in our ports have alternatives. We must strive to make our ports user-friendly and competitive,” he said.
NIMASA, according to him, has fully keyed into the initiative of the ease of doing business and will continue to partner other relevant government agencies in the ports in order to fully realize the objectives of the initiative.
The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) recently raised alarm over the delays suffered by ships at Nigerian ports due to unharmonised checks by the representatives of government agencies responsible for inspection, boarding and rummaging.
“The activities of government agencies constitute a major delay for ships calling at Nigerian ports. Just like we have on the landside where we have a preponderance of government agencies, the same thing is happening on the quayside.
“When these vessels arrive our ports, a set of government agencies are mandated to board the vessel to do inspection. However, a lot of these agencies don’t operate in unity, so these vessels spend so much time waiting to discharge their contents or depart our ports because all these agencies of government must issue their clearance. So, at the end of the day, the vessels are kept waiting for agencies of government to come onboard and do their jobs.
“These agencies of government don’t work in unity, so they take their turns to board the vessel, and that takes time, which in shipping, means money. Immigration officials will come, do their work on the ship and go, and then Customs too will come and do theirs maybe after an hour that the Immigration officials had left. After another 45 minutes, Quarantine will want to come, and there is still Port Health, NIMASA and so many more.
“At the end of the day, the vessel spends so much time getting inspected by different government officials, and spreads the cost of having to wait that long on the shipments that she is carrying. The shippers pay the huge bill that such delays cause and the common man on the street eventually is at the receiving end,” STOAN Spokesman, Bolaji Akinola had said.