Prof. Sylvester Monye

We’ll strictly enforce the law on overtime cargo, says Monye

The Special Adviser to the President on Monitoring and Evaluation, Prof. Sylvester Monye, is also Chairman, Presidential Monitoring Committee on Port Reforms. A lively interviewee, who lashes out at his interviewer with his own question, Monye spoke to Ships & Ports’ Obiajulu Agu on the sidelines of the committee’s flag-off of the evacuation of so-called overtime cargoes from the Lagos ports, in Apapa, to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, in the outskirts of Lagos State.

The documents you distributed yesterday has a 19-member committee, per chance have you increased the number of members of the committee? Who are these new members? 
Did I tell you I have increased committee members?

I see that no personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service had been listed as member … 
Customs are the operators and the operators are expected to facilitate the clearing of goods. They are one or those expected and approved to be in the agency.

You have 40 trucks deployed for this exercise. Sir, how many barges are deployed? 
It is still being worked out. We have deployed, for today, over 100 trucks, not 40, and we are still discussing with the barges operators. We are also going to Ikorodu to look at the lighter terminal to make sure that the integrity of the platform can take equipment offloading those containers.

You have hinted at possible prosecution of the importers of some of these items. How do you intend to go about this? 
Well, we have the government equipment abandoned what we do is first identify those who imported them and to know why they have not been taken out. It is as simple as that. If there are no justifiable reasons of abandoning the equipment there, government will decide on how to proceed.

In monetary terms, how much is this exercise costing the government and who is picking up the bills? 
This is a regular job of the NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority), NCS (Nigeria Customs Service) and terminal operators, so we are just making them to do what they are supposed to do as a nation.

This particular exercise comes after similar exercises. How do we check this ugly trend?
We are putting in place systems and institutions, including having regulators and operational guidelines at the ports to ensure that, going forward, any cargo that stays here up to 90 days is classified as overtime. Once classified as overtime, the cargo is taken out and the CG, NCS has the right to dispose of that container. That is the law, and that is what we ensure that we enforce.

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