As part of efforts to curb corruption and improve service delivery at the nation’s seaports, the Federal Government has streamlined the number of agencies allowed to board vessels to five.
The agencies approved to board visiting ships at the ports include Port Health Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Department of State Services (DSS).
This is even as the government has approved the inclusion of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) into the Nigerian Shippers Council’s Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) to free the port corridors of gridlock.
National Coordinator of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), Moses Fadipe, disclosed this in Lagos during a courtesy call on the newly appointed Lagos State Commandant of the NSCDC, Commandant Usman Alfadarai.
Fadipe stated that boarding ships at Nigerian ports in the past is free for all, but presently only five agencies are allowed to do so.
“In the past, anybody can board a vessel at Nigerian ports, but today, only five agencies are allowed to board the vessel. First is the Port Health and the maximum time given is 45 minutes. If for any reason you spend more than that, you must explain why it is so.
“Secondly is the Immigration and Nigeria Customs Service at the same time, Customs can only board with two officials, while Immigration can board with three officials, the maximum time allotted to the two agencies is 30 minutes.
“When you are boarding, there is a muster point where you de-robe yourself, the only thing following you onto the ship is your identity card, if you have any money on you, you must drop it, if you are returning from the ship and we see any money on you, we would confiscate it,” he said.
He said NDLEA and DSS are also board vessels for only 30 minutes.
Fadipe explained that pruning down the number of agencies became necessary because of Nigeria’s high corruption rating.
“This led to the creation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) on the 3rd of March 2021, which is a combination of the SOP of all agencies at the port and their timelines. Shippers Council, ICPC and DSS were created to implement the NPPM with a proviso that other agencies can join with the approval of the presidency,” he said.
Fadipe stated that the activities of the PSTT have saved vessel captains $20,000 per visit, which was being spent before now on boarding officials.
While speaking at the meeting, the NSCDC Lagos Commandant, Usman Alfadarai, commended the activities of the PSTT and the Nigerian Shippers Council.
He said, “The issue of port congestion and traffic gridlock in Apapa port was a major challenge in the past, but since the PSTT came in, it has come down. We shall support the work of the Task Team because the key element in our mandate is to assist in the maintenance of peace and order across the nation.
“Lagos State, with the largest population, is always congested and really needs peace and order. Practically, 80 per cent of the things we use in the country comes through Lagos, so there is a need for peace and order at the port.
“PSTT is a welcome development and we shall do everything within our power to ensure the team succeeds. We shall look into the provision of vehicles for the NSCDC team because the assignment is very important. We are excited about it, we have a responsibility and we shall deliver it to the best of our ability.”
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