13 August 2013, Lagos – A group, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition, SNFFIEC, has berated the Federal Government for not allowing Nigerians to reap the benefits of the port concession carried out seven years ago.
The group blamed the government and the concessionaires who took over the ports from the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Customs for corruption, inefficiency and high cost of operations at the ports.
The group, during an interaction with reporters in Lagos, said ports privatisation in other countries were done to benefit the economy, the citizens and successor companies, noting that the exercise had not benefited Nigerians except the few ‘money bags’ and foreigners who took over the ports from the NPA.
Its National Coordinator, Comrade Chukwu Osita, told reporters that ports concession anywhere in the world is done with the primary aim to improve efficiency, bring about better port infrastructure and services with the attendant benefits to all parties. He noted that in Nigeria it is only the concessionaires that are benefiting while Nigerians continue to grapple with high cost of operations at the ports.
He noted that the Federal Government actually had good intention towards the ports but failed to follow it through with the right appointments and policy implementation to ensure transparency and corruption-free operations in line with global best practices.
Osita stated that President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation programmes in the Nigerian ports, which were meant to reposition the ports will not succeed because the system in place in the ports has been polluted with bribery and corruption. He said this has brought with it inefficiency and has made it unbearable for the stakeholders.
He said that there are numerous challenges, which demand urgent attention by the government to save the ugly situation. Osita cited some of the issues to include the faulty Nigerian Custom Cargo Alert System, multiplicity of cargo clearance points and delays in the scanning of containers. He said scanning of containers by the Service Providers is delayed because the scanning companies deceived the government and brought in very old and refurbished equipments that break down often.
Osita said there are infrastructural decay and maintenance neglect and IT failures in some of the Customs Commands while shipping companies delay service delivery. He said the issue of withholding of container deposits by shipping companies to the detriment of the clearing agents who might have taken the risk of getting loans from the banks to clear the goods for their principals is going on unabated.
The group stated that unclean and unconducive ports environment, lack of provision of parking lots to enable stakeholders discharge their legitimate duties by the concessionaires, amendments and forgeries of vital documents and lack of equipments.
– Uyoatta Eshiet, The Nation