Port agencies inaugurate task team on NPPM
By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to shorten the turnaround time of vessels calling at Nigerian ports, government agencies responsible for inspecting ships have agreed to collaborate for simultaneous joint vessel inspection in less than 30 minutes.
The exercise is sponsored by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who also has the onus of providing buses, however, other government parastatals including Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Port Health, Department of State Security Service (DSS), have pledged their support for the initiative.
Under this arrangement, which is one of the results of the recently launched Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), all agencies involved in inspecting ships will go onboard together to carry out their respective inspections as contained in their Establishing Acts.
Preciding over a meeting of agencies earlier today, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello noted that joint boarding of vessels is the international best practice around the world.
According to him, the European Union and the entire global shipping community have complained incessantly about the delays at Nigerian ports which have economic consequences on the nation.
His words: “Shipping is time-bound and we face serious competition from other ports in the region. Why should Nigeria have 22 days ship turnaround time when our neighbours achieve it in 7 days?”
“I’m happy with the collaboration and commitment of all the government agencies and this development coupled with the impending disappearance of traffic gridlock would see shipping play its significant role in Nigeria’s economic development.”
Bello lamented that Nigeria is ranked 149 out of 180 countries on global corruption index, but expressed optimism that the joint boarding of vessels will eliminate corruption during ship inspection.
Also speaking, the General Manager, Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Mrs. Eniola Williams who represented NPA’s Managing Director, said there will be sanctions for agencies which fail to comply with the new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for inspecting vessels and the entire NPPM.
She said, “Each agency has its law with sanctions for offenders and the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi at the launch of NPPM emphasized the need to invoke sanctions. This is what we are going to do because NPPM is empowered statutorily and with directives.”
Noting that NPA desires to have the leading ports in Africa, she posited that, “in attaining that, we need to ensure that our processes are timely, efficient and free from corruption. NPA is taking this very seriously and we are working with other agencies. On the issue of joint boarding, this refers to people who represent Nigeria on-board ships from other nations.”
“The people who come in via these ships are making first contact with Nigeria through that joint inspection and it’s good we display integrity and take it seriously.”
Speaking on behalf of Customs, the Deputy Controller, Administration, Idiroko Border, DC Dera Nnadi stated that integrity has to be prioritized in the joint exercise, stressing that each agency should provide its mandate with respect to onboard ship inspection.
Nnadi suggested that the mandate of various government agencies on ship inspection should be availed the NPPM team and the SOPs should be measured with the reports from ship captains after inspections.
The Customs boss also harped on the need for the joint team to engage shipping lines to prioritize integrity, noting that some shipping companies have adopted integrity as their watchword and security agencies know some shipping lines that hardly engage in sharp practices.
The event also featured the inauguration of a Port Standing Task Team to enforce compliance with SOPs and NPPM, to make the maritime sector efficient and competitive.
NSC inaugurated the inter-agency team comprising of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC), Directorate of State Security (DSS) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Officers nominated to represent NPA on the task team are; Mr. Emmanuel Nnorom Senior Manager, Traffic and Mrs. Victoria Tarfa, a Senior Manager, Corporate & Strategic Communications.
Representatives of NSC include the Team’s Coordinator, Mr. Moses Fadipe, Mr. Abdulfatai Adesokan and Miss Adaora Nwonu.