…Sets to Resume Onslaught Against Port Access Extortionists
The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) domiciled under the Nigerian Shippers Council has said that it has saved the nation’s economy the sum of N5.4 billion ($12,350 million) from an average vessels demurrage from 2021 to 2022.
The National Coordinator, PSTT, Comrade Moses Fadipe, said this at the enlarged meeting of the Presidential Port Standing Task Team (PPSTT) on Wednesday in Lagos.
This is even as the PSTT has lamented that some of the over 75 extortion points which where earlier dismantled along the port corridor are now begining to return gradually.
The task team has however vowed to resume it’s onslaught against the extortion points, some of which were mounted by Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Police as well as hoodlums from various Local Government Areas around the Port.
Speaking on vessel demurrage, the PSTT Cordinator, Comrade Fadipe said that the amount represented an average of $20,000 per vessel demurrage per day.
He attributed the feat to the interventions of the PSTT in restoring order along the port corridors and ports logistics ring.
Fadipe noted that through the interventions of the PSTT, over 85 per cent of vessels that came through the nation’s ports and terminals left without incident in 2021.
“Some others are drastic reduction in incidences of extortions by both state and non-state actors, and freer movement of vehicles and persons along the ports’ logistics ring.
“Even though revenue generation is not the primary concern of the task team, deterrence through fine is one of the tools through which we are able to record our successes of Operation Free the Port Corridors.
“In the process, revenues to the tone of N1,023,000 have accrued to the Federal Government Treasury Single Account through fines,” he said.
Fadipe said that the activities of the task team was a positive barometer, showing the teams contribution to the actualisation of the objectives of Executive Order 1 on ease of doing business in Nigeria as enshrined through the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM).
He, however, expressed optimism that the successes would be sustained with good strategies of consolidation aimed at surpassing the previous gains.
Fadipe pointed out that their achievements did not come without occasional hazards such as assaults on personal of the task team, which were carried out by private operators and high ranking government officials.
He noted that their operation was an offshoot of the implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) which successful implementation should change the corruption perception index by Transparency International about Nigeria.
On the issues of touting along the port corridor and other complaints, Fadipe assured the stakeholders that it would be addressed in less than 30 days starting from April 3.
“It is important to consciously partake in proffering effective and sustainable solutions in partnership like this. I am confident that today’s meeting which objective is to review activities in 2022 and strategise for 2023, will come up with strong resolutions going forward.
Operation Free the Port Corridor is an action plan put in place by the collaborative efforts of the Federal Government agencies and private stakeholders in the port supported by the Federal Ministry of Transportation to rid the port corridors of impediments and corrupt practices.
“It was realised that stoppage of trucks along the port corridor constitute the biggest encumbrance to the free flow of traffic and this breeds extortion and corrupt practices,” he said.
Fadipe said that the Federal Ministry of Transportation had on April 14, 2022 flagged off the exercise to remove all illegal checkpoint and shanties along the port corridor to eliminate traffic gridlock and corrupt practices and impediments to ease of doing business.
“On strategies for the year, we will not dwell on challenges, we focus on the best we can do to achieve what we can within the resources in our disposals. This is the spirit that we will continue with,” he said.
Some of the stakeholders who commented during the meeting decried the activities of touts, non-state and state actors along the port corridor, urging the PSTT to look into it.
Commenting, Mr Mohammed Bala, from the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, while appreciating the efforts of the task team said that the extortion checkpoints that were removed had returned on the port corridor.
“The touts have technically crossed to the inbound section of the port access road and causing so much havoc there.
“Truckers are profusely bleeding due to the activities of these people. From Mile 2 down to Second Gate, these touts are littered there,” he said.
In his own contribution, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, Mr Aloga Ogbogbo, said that the extortion was now taking place at odd hours.
Ogogbo urged the task team to extend their operations to cover the odd hours that the touts operate.
Responding to the issues raised, Head of Legal Department, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC),Mr Dennis Idoko assured stakeholders that the commission would work within its power to meet the objectives of the team.