Penultimate week, as security chiefs of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), met at the NPA House, Marina, Lagos, an interesting spectacle played out at one of the seaports in Lagos.
That sultry dusty afternoon at that port, three scantily-clad young women were bickering over the most innocuous object – the thick roll of tissue paper one of them had flung among the overflowing refuse bins at the common-user facility managed by the NPA since private terminal operators took over that particular port’s terminals under the Nigerian ports concession programme.
That thick roll of toilet tissue had barely hit the ground when it was promptly grabbed and secreted by one of the pair of scavengers busy at work on the refuse bins.
One of the trio of quarrelling young women had discarded what was not hers, therefore the angry protest from the owner, who was backed by the third person in the group.
From the strident protestations of the tissue roll owner, the one who threw away the item had insulted her greatly by snatching the item from her hand and callously discarding same to be grabbed by the scavenger, whose fearsome appearance made it eloquently clear that nothing would persuade him to return that particular treasure he had snapped up from the refuse heap.
Attempts by certain passersby at the very busy location to broker peace among the trio only incensed the trio, and the young women snapped at the peacemakers to mind their business, calling them busybodies.
Thereafer, exchange of hot words among the young women and between them and the passerby ensued, abating only when the young women went on to exit the port through the main gates strictly reserved for entry of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic into the port, while their opponents went on to exit the facility through the normal channel for exiting vehicles and pedestrians.
The impunity of the three women in exiting the port through improper means was a source of robust debate as the peacemaker-turned-opponents trudged on to leave the port through the approved exit.
Not a few keen observers wondered why the security personnel manning the port’s entrance gates could so freely permit the three young women to exit the facility there.
Personnel of the NPA Security Department and the Ports Authority Police Command (PAPC) man the gates of the nation’s ports, and they are known to jealously guard the gates of this particular port, as the mood suits them.
Findings by Ships & Ports revealed that pecuniary gains play a big part in the disposition of these security personnel towards port users.
Further checks by Ships & Ports revealed that the three cantankerous young women were residents of one of the numerous brothels that dot Apapa, the port city and environs, servicing the throng of port users.
Only recently, the NPA Managing Director, Engr. Omar Suleiman, declared that truckers at the nation’s ports are amongst the most exposed to the scourge of the Human Immune Virus (HIV) Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Suleiman had spoken through the NPA Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Ms. Aina Egharevba, when officials of the Abidjan–Lagos Corridor for Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (ALTTFF) visited the NPA House, Marina, Lagos.
The NPA boss assured the two-man ALTFFP delegation led by Mr. Kokouvi Anthony Edy of the preparedness of the NPA Management promote awareness and fight the HIV/AIDS scourge in the West African sub-region.
Suleiman had asserted that the NPA Management would give all necessary support to the committee established to sensitise and increase awareness about the prevention of HIV/AIDS within and around the ports communities in Lagos and other ports locations across the country.
Suleiman said that the NPA Management is willing to support the fight against the scourge, more so when two members of the NPA Executive Management are put of the committee.
The NPA, according to him, would also increase awareness on the dangers of the disease amongst its staff through the sensitisation programme of it’s already established team, noting that this would definitely impact on global programmes along the West African Corridor.
Fine words indeed by the NPA boss, if only these could be matched by the realities on ground.