Nigeria’s maritime sector has lost significant revenue and also suffered a major set back in terms of the ease of doing business because of lack of integrity in the supply chain process. If not mitigated, the nation will continue to lose the profitability of the logistics and supply chain sector.
Although Nigeria is one of the fastest growing economies in developing countries, managing this dearth of integrity in supply chain has been a challenging task to businesses, technology, and regulations. This has also greatly affected the movement of goods in and out of the ports.
The stakeholders in the maritime and port sectors include; financial institutions, customs, law enforcement, exporters, ship owners, shippers, shipping agents, shipping consignee agents and freight agents. The shipment of goods would be easier if all those involved in this chain will embrace integrity as their watchword and shun all corrupt practices that will hinder the development of the sector.
Expressing displeasure over the situation of things at the port, the Zonal Coordinator Zone A, Assistant Comptroller-General (ACG) Kaycee Ekekezie at a port stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos stressed that the problem of integrity was one of the biggest challenges at the nation’s ports.
Ekekezie who was represented by the Deputy Controller of Customs in charge of Enforcement at the Tin-Can Island Port Command, DC Dera Nnadi, urged importers to instill honesty in their supply chain business.
“The supply chain integrity is very poor. I understand that people say that Customs clear the same cargo. Of course, if somebody moves cargo or steals cargo in Lagos and succeeds to take it to Maiduguri, it does not stop the Police from still pursuing that particular cargo in Maiduguri.”
“We agree that when Customs does intervention in the port, there should be no further intervention. I agree with that but then, I think what we should be addressing here is that why should somebody want to compromise the system. So it’s a question of integrity. One thing I would love every importer here to leave with is to address the issue of integrity in the supply chain and 70 percent of the problem of interventions will stop” he said.
the Customs boss narrated an incident which showed the dearth of integrity in nation’s port business. “Permit me to tell you about a particular story. A particular container was on transfer to a bonded terminal but the container was diverted and the vehicles inside the container were stripped. The agent lifting the cargo found his way. That vehicle was arrested in Owerri by the Federal Operations Unit on the road. The container left Lagos and the vehicle was arrested in Owerri and the vehicle was bullet proof. That is a national security issue. In the course of investigation, it was discovered that it was diverted, it did not get to the final destination.”
Since the importer of that vehicle showed proof that he gave the money to the agent to clear that cargo even though the duty was not paid, the vehicle wasn’t seized and he was given approval to go and pay the duty having shown the proof.
While it is pertinent that the agents and Customs officers involved in such activities get sufficient punishment, a change in the attitudinal behaviour of operators in the sector would go along way to correcting the ills and bottlenecks in the nations logistics and supply chain.