…Says Another #ENDSARS Imminent in Maritime Sector
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has called on the Federal Government to declare a State of Emergency at Nigerian ports, saying that over N300million is being lost weekly to bribery and various illegal collections at the port.
Speaking at a press conference in Apapa Lagos yesterday, Vice President of ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto warned the federal government to avoid a repeat of the #EndSars# protest in the maritime sector, saying that right now, the young freight forwarders have been pushed to the wall and are only being calmed down by the leaders.
Speaking on some of the challenges currently bedevilling the sector, Farinto said the Presidential Task Team on Traffic Control in Apapa should be disbanded because its officials are now extorting port users.
He alleged that freight forwarders bribe their way into Nigerian ports with N280,000 per truck before they can be allowed to load cargo.
He also lamented that cost of haulage has increased astronomically by 1000%.
“The Federal Government should declare a State of Emergency in the industry because nothing is moving, cargoes are not moving out of the port”
“We should not wait until when the youths start taking laws into their hands just like we had during the #ENDSARS, the protest took place because there was a security breach, the security agencies cannot say that they did not feel what the youths were going through”
“As a leader, I will say that the government needs to intervene quickly in the maritime industry before it degenerates into self help.
Part of the actions in the state of emergency is for government to disband the so called Presidential Task Team because they have not been adding value to the system”
“It has been turned into a money making machine, I stand to be corrected but stakeholders lose an average of N300Million on a weekly basis to illegal collections by some members of the task team”
“Today, if you must survive in the industry, you just have to shunt the queue, and in doing this, you must rob somebody’s palm, this is why some trucks stay on queue for two weeks, we spend a minimum of N280,000 per truck for our members getting access into the port” he said
The ANLCA Vice President called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to commence the electronic call up system for trucks, saying that the manual call up system is full of anomalies and it is encouraging corruption.
From all indications, and due to several cries of maritime stakeholders which has fallen on deaf ears, Farinto feared that the government is not ready to stop corruption in the port system.
“There is an astronomical increase in haulage fairs, it has gone up by 1000% because of the failures of some stakeholders, and the people suffering this are the final consumers” he said
He also lamented the slow pace at which the construction of the access road around Tin Can Island Port is being carried out. According to him, the road construction has led to delay in delivery of cargoes.
Recall that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) attributed the gridlock to stripping of containers along port corridor. Executive Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, Comrade Kayode Opeifa in a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS also identified this challenge.
Farinto however told newsmen that the Customs multiplicity of units on the highway was the cause of container stripping at the port.
He said “Multiplicity of Customs units is frustrating trade, out of this frustration, agents offload their cargoes along Tin Can Port for easy transportation, it is not that they cannot take their cargoes home directly, but you need to see the commando style with which FOU customs swing on containers on the road”
The ANLCA Vice President called on sister associations to close ranks and work together in order to put an end to the numerous challenges in the freight forwarding sector.
He said there must collaboration among chairmen at various chapters of the associations at port, saying that “this is not the time to say I am for ANLCA or I am for NAGAFF, we must work together for this anomalies to stop”
He said the stakeholders are already consulting and discussing underground and that the moment they get the buy-in if some critical terminal operators, freight forwarders would withdraw their services at the port.
In view if the economic recession in the country, Farinto urged government to create a palliative for terminal operators by reviewing its dollar payments to the NPA.
As part of efforts to cushion the effect of recession in the maritime industry, he urged government to cut down the throughput fees payable by terminal operators to the NPA.
He said this would also serve as incentives to importers as it would enable terminal operators reduce their storage charges on cargoes.