PORT PROCESS MANUAL: Shippers Council Recovers $14,000USD Bribe From Ship Inspection Officials At Port

Barr Hassan Bello, former Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council

…Says Agency Succeeding So Far in Digitalisation of Nigerian Ports


The Nigerian Shippers Council has said that it has recovered 14,000US Dollars bribery proceeds from officials saddled with responsibility of boarding and inspection of ships whenever they call at the Nigerian ports.

Disclosing this at a press conference at the Council’s headquarters in Lagos on Friday, Executive Secretary of Council, Barr Hassan Bello said seeking of bribes from Captains of vessels and seafarers calling at Nigerian port has been an international embarrassment for Nigeria.

He however said that in less than three months of implementation of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM) of which the Nigerian Shippers Council was appointed as lead Cordinator, there has been sanity in boarding of vessels for inspection.

Recall that the Nigerian Shippers Council was appointed as the lead agency in the execution of the Port Process Manual in December 2020 when Nigerian Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the manual in Abuja with a lot of fanfare.

The Port Process Manual is expected to reduce corruption at the port, spell out the duty and responsibilities, as well as Standard Operating Procedure of all government agencies at the port in the cargo clearance process, right from when a vessel arrives at the port.

Bello said before the Council began implementation of the NPPM, vessels are delayed for six hours before they are boarded for inspection. He however said that right now, there is a time limit of thirty minutes to complete all inspections.

Addressing maritime Journalists, Bello said “We have already recovered bribes of about 14,000$ from people who board the vessels and demand for bribe, we are monitoring the situation and it has reduced drastically”

“We also recovered about N2.3million from service providers back to a consignee, all in the issue of corruption”

“When vessels arrive Nigerian ports, it takes a long time before the vessel is boarded, and when it is boarded, it is done individually by those who are allowed to board and those who are not”

“Right now, we are trying to streamline the situation, working with NPA, we bus-in and bus-out now, after the Port Health, the four government agencies; Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) would board the bus to go and inspect the vessel”

“When they say that Nigerian ports are expensive, it is not in terms of the official money that you pay, it is the inefficiency that is the expense.
Ships come to our ports and spend six hours without inspection, and when they are eventually inspected, officials demand for bribe”

“Now, every vessel captain that arrives the port would call the council to report what is happening, people are already aware and we have the complement of ICPC, Department of State Security (DSS) they are working with us 24/7 in order to stop these ugly incidences of corruption”

“We have made arrests, and we have had monies seized. Joint boarding of vessels have also been established at the Onne and Port Harcourt port”

Bello assured that the Council would replicate the same NPPM on the examination of cargoes inside port terminals.

He insisted that there must be joint examination of cargoes at the port, adding that some of the agencies and organisations that are supposed to inspect the cargo do not come at all, or they come very late.

“Nigerian Shippers Council is already gaining a lot of things right and the international community have started noticing that there are some changes in the Nigerian ports just within three months”

“Unfortunately, there are people who are opposed to these giant strides, some of the service providers do not want us to come and look at how vessels are boarded, we have some unfriendly terminals and shipping companies”

“The council would have to deal with these recalcitrant operators. We have enough sanctions in our laws and regulations, we would not hesitate to enforce it to the full”

Meanwhile, Barr Hassan Bello said that the Council is also succeeding in digitalisation of Nigerian ports. He assured that Nigerian ports would attain 90% digitalisation before the end of first quarter of the year 2021.

He said that so far, some of the shipping service providers, particularly the shipping companies and terminal operators have done well as far in the area of digitalization while some were very poor.

The Council, he said, rated the automation level of some of the shipping companies in the first quarter as between 88 percent and 63 percent, in what the NSC described as a tremendous achievement..

In the rating, Grimaldi shipping came first with 88% compliance, Ocean Network Express – 75%, CMA CGM – 60%.
He however expressed dismay that some shipping companies were still at the level of 20 percent as far as automation is concerned.

On the terminal operators, he said PTML came first with 92% while BUA had 75%.

He expressed optimism that there would be an improvement among all the shipping companies in the second phase with integration with banks and Nigerian Customs Service.

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