…As NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team Warn SON Against Sample Taking, Cargo Interceptions
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Freight forwarders operating at Nigeria’s Apapa premier port have raised an alarm over the insecurity and porosity of the ports, even as they blamed this on the laxity of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigerian Police and the Nigeria Customs Service.
Speaking at the monthly roundtable of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Apapa Lagos on Thursday, Chairman of 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim raised the alarm.
Tanko was accompanied to the MARAN event by other members of his team, including the Western Zone Chairman of NAGAFF, Mr Fred Adjuzie.
The NAGAFF anti-corruption campaigner noted that the Apapa port has become an all comers affair where touts, beggers, food vendors and hoodlums stray into the port on daily basis without proper security checks.
According to him, this is happening inside the popular examination platform provided by APM Terminals for clearing agents. He alleged that some miscreants sleep inside the Apapa port and smoke Indian hemp, even to the knowing of customs, NPA and other security agents
Tanko said that his team had written letters to the concerned authorities, and that the Apapa customs command had visited the platform to inspect and confirm the concerns. He however said that actions were not taken.
“We have written a letter to the Nigeria Customs Service through the Area Controller of Apapa Command and the Tin Can Island Command. If look at the APM terminal platform today, the crowd is more or less like a market place, you don’t even know who is who.
“You would see people sleeping inside the terminal, smoking indian hemp and so on. A port is supposed to be a sensitive place. You cannot try this at the airport.
“There was a clearing agent that was traced from APM Terminal by these hoodlums inside the port, they followed him to his area, they robbed him and killed him. However, in the process, the identity card of one of the hoodlums dropped and police traced the owner.
“When the police apprehended to thieves, they confessed that they traced their victim from APM Terminal, Apapa. This means that all of us are not safe.
“There is need for NPA, Customs and Police to tighten security inside the port, we cannot continue this way.
As a freight forwarder or clearing agent, if you don’t have any business to be inside the port, why are you there? So what is the essence of the authority the NPA is asking us to sign with them? It is for screening of people going into the port.
“Beggers should not be allowed to come into the port. We must be mindful of our security system because we all know the security situation in the country today” he said.
Also, following the recent return of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) back to the port, Tanko said the freight forwarders are yet to understand the mode of operation that would be adopted by the SON at this time.
He however warned that the SON should not return back to its old ways of picking product samples without returning them, as well as blocking of containers in order to collect bribes.
He warned that all these illegal operations would be resisted by the freight forwarders.
Tanko said that the NAGAFF 100% compliance team is not against SON return to the port, but that the agency should not be an impediment in the wheel of cargo clearance and ease of doing business.
He acknowledged the fact that fake items have littered Nigerian markets, especially electrical appliances, which is dangerous to lives.
He however encouraged SON to tackle the challenge of substandard products right from the country of origin, using it’s SONCAP Programme.