By DAPO OLAWUNI
There was tension at the Tin Can Island Port today as the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) denied port users access into the port over their lack of port pass.
DAILY TREND NEWS gathered that the NPA had informed terminal operators, government agencies and labour of its intention to commence implementation port pass and strict access control.
The authority however failed to inform the license customs agents and freight forwarders who only woke up to the port by 8am to find stern looking NPA security officers, assisted by the Nigerian Police, mounting the newly built access gate built recently by NPA.
Apart from freight forwarders, terminal operators and their dockworkers were also trapped outside the port. Some of the dockworkers were rough handled.
The situation was gradually degenerating into a riot and the police started teargassing the crowd of port users gathered at the gate.
Speaking with our correspondent, one of the licensed customs agents, Mr Emmanuel Onyeme said “We came into the port at 8am and found out that the PSO (Port Security Officer) Mr Akindele Olajide has led his team to shut down the newly built access gate by Nigerian Port Authority, both terminal operators, customs brokers and even government agencies do not have access of getting into the port”
He explained that there was a letter written to the terminal operators earlier that the exercise was going to commence and that they should start bussing in and outThey agreed that terminal operators should use their busses to pick their staff and drop them at work.
“It was wrong, if you notify the terminal operators that this is an assignment you intend carrying out, why didn’t you write the custom brokers too? They didn’t notify us”
“Ironically, we saw a man taking his bath openly inside the port, we had to call the attention of NPA officials to this, they are denying people who have things to do inside the port access, but how did that man gain access”
“In terms of security, we are not against the action of NPA, but they are supposed to carry all stakeholders along” Onyeme said
Our correspondent gathered that after much pleading and intervention from various quarters including the headquarters of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) port users were allowed access into the port at 12 pm.
Some of the clearing agents lamented that they were not allowed to carry out their commercial activities throughout the day.
One of the agents, Deacon Inuolajin Joseph said “I had a target of generating a debit note and that was why I came early into the port, but only ended up generating the debit note around 4pm today”
“We don’t know what would happen tomorrow now”
He lamented that to get the NPA port pass is very difficult, he said that many port users have written letters to get it but they are still waiting up till now.
Also speaking with our correspondent, another agent who identified himself as Mr Stanley Okechukwu wondered why NPA would be fighting to implement port pass in the month of November, knowing fully well that the year is almost over.
He said “We are in the peak period when a lot of activities that has to so with goods importation has increased”
“Apart from that, the port is expiring in December, so why carry out the action now”