In order to address the issues of weak internal ethics in port agencies and lack of well defined operating procedures, there is the need to engage officials of these agencies and companies through integrity training on anti-corruption. In this exclusive interview with MMS Plus, the Chairperson of Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and the Senior Legal Counsel, Group Compliance Officer of Maesrk Group, Mrs Cecelia Muller Torbrand explains the impact of integrity training as a tool for curbing corrupt practices in the ports system. Read on.
What is the MACN programme all about?
The programme is about strengthening integrity in the ports sector. It has been going on together with our local partners for about 3 years now, our local partners is our Technical Unit on Anti-corruption and Government Reforms (TUGAR) supported by Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
How can corruption be eradicated from the ports in Nigeria?
With more stakeholders engagements, I do believe that there is an effort from the government to improve the trade flows in and out of Nigeria, that in combination with government efforts to focus on the fight against corruption together with the willingness of the private sector, I do think there is a possibility of improving the governance around ports activities in Nigeria.
Is this your first visit to Nigeria?
No, I was in Nigeria in 2014 presenting the launch of the project which involves the meeting of risk assessors and the action part connected with the risk assessment which was done at the end and together with the Nigerian government to look at this as a joint project.
After two years of these efforts, what have been the results?
The projects are making progress, which is key and last year we were challenged by the federal elections, the political energy was put on the elections as it is done in any country but I believe we have a commitment from both the government and the authorities and we have made progress in 2015.
Now, we are coming back to the movement in the progress we made in 2014 and I hope that we can flow with this to the final actions that are so important to us which was mentioned by Ms. Ogo from Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC); talking about having standard operating procedures for Customs clearance, having integrity trainings like what we are doing today and having feedback mechanisms, so that there can be continuous dialogues.
There have always been dialogues and there has not been any tangible results recorded, what is the guarantee that these dialogues will make a difference?
Before now, Nigeria was not doing as much as it should to prevent and to scale up its prevention activities, so we decided to prioritize all existing risk assessment issues. We did not set out to do a risk assessment of the port but a report from the external stakeholders made us take up to explore corruption risk assessment in the ports.
The integrity plan is a long list of issues to be done, law reforms, security issues among others, before going to the bigger issues of transparency in the ports system. One of the first prioritized issues is the lack of punishment of offenders, absence of complains portals to ensure that complaints get to the right quarters. We must encourage people to shun corrupt practices, so I think that we need to continue to have dialogue because constant dialogue makes the difference.
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is working actively with 70 companies who are pushing this agenda and I believe that dialogue needs to happen, it is happening and it is helping. There is no other way around that because we need to have the government and authorities to support this process. A similar institute is responsible for the shipping and ports private sector stakeholders, to push this agenda on their own level.
Aside from the dialogue mechanism is there any other mechanisms in place to push this agenda?
we monitor what is happening every day, we have members of the networking team who have close contact with what is happening in the ports everyday, where it is happening and we are escalating issues. So it is an ongoing dialogue because we do business here on a day-to-day basis