The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has blamed the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) managing director, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman for not taking responsibility for the under-utilization of Eastern and South South Ports, MMS Plus reports.
NAGAFF in a letter dated November 24, 2017, addressed to NPA MD and forwarded by its head of Special Duties, Mr. Emma Agubanze bemoaned the infrastructure decay, inaccessibility, unfriendly tarrifs, policy failure, discrimination by regulatory authorities and other factors as major rationale behind the gross under-utilization of the Eastern Ports of Calabar, Onne, Warri, Sapele and Port Harcourt Ports, by importers, exporters and other major port users.
NAGAFF was reacting to a statement credited to the NPA’s MD by the Executive Director Marine and Operations Mr. Sekonte Davies during a stakeholders meeting on the 21st of November 2017 claiming that “NPA does not have constitutional or moral right to direct an importer or exporter on the port to use”.
The association opined that while the assertion might sound literally correct, it also appears to be ill-conceived as it is technically faulty and inconsistent considering the realities on ground because of government’s failure to provide modern facilities and formulate policies that will mitigate the geographical disadvantages at the Eastern and South South Ports to enhance operational efficiency and productivity. An act it said negates national growth, internal cohesion and development.
While acknowledging her efforts towards running an inclusive administration, breaking the monopoly in the management of port functions and operations, the association observed that the objective of ports concessioning which targeted a sustainable reduction in cost of doing business in the ports and improved efficiency is at the moment eluding the country’s ports operations and competitiveness.
NAGAFF also saw the under-utilization of the Eastern and South South Ports to be politically motivated citing as examples the recent de-classification of ports in the country the issue of Intels monopoly in the past.
“During the period of concession, Lagos Ports were top priority that attracted the attention of international investors. This to our understanding may be a deliberate state policy of the then past leaderships of our country. The Eastern and South South Ports were therefore deemed to be second best, unviable and unattractive
“It may suffice if we take a cursory look at the International Liner Shipping where we have a predetermined schedule, route, Port of Origin and Port of Destination. International Shipping Lines or their Agents operating in Nigeria are largely domiciled in Lagos. Their operations are complex and fraught with many risks, hence well-defined and secured by inviolable contractual agreements and International Conventions and local laws. This implies that all liner vessels have pre-determined and fixed ports of origin, port of call or destination. Therefore, the Shipper is left with a “fait Accompli”
“we want to express our utter consternation and dismay that the NPA under your watch does not embark on Know Your Customer (KYC) initiative as a Corporate Administrative Policy. It is our strong opinion, that if this time hallowed Corporate Social Responsibility initiative is imbibed by your Agency, the issue of identities of your clients will be readily available to your humble self at the snap of a finger.
“Considering the fact that cargo must get to the shipping companies charge as much as N800,000 as deposit per container where the consignee’s address is outside Lagos against N150,000 if the destination of consignment is Lagos. It may also interest you to note, that the importation of some products e.g. pharmaceutical products are restricted to Lagos Ports of Apapa and Tincan Island only, hence, the above mentioned zones with their very huge pharmaceutical markets are forced through Government policy and directive to import their wares through the Lagos ports, thus leaving other ports of the regions in comatose and moribund. It is also no news that land borders are restrictive of rice and vehicle importation” the letter read in part.
The association therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to visit the port so that he could make an informed decision to arrest the situation of avoidable total system collapse in the nation’s ports function.
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