Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), had claimed that all the nation’s ports have perimeter wall fence in order to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining entry into the port, in addition to access control gates that are manned by its security operatives.
According to NPA, all the port users are properly screened at the gate to ensure that only those with port permit and those who have genuine business to carry out in the port are allowed access.
NPA equally claimed that the entire port premises are well-illuminated at night for the safety of the vessels in our ports and there are also back-up generators in the event of power failure.
Boasting that there are Closed Circuit Televisions installed all over the ports to monitor the activities of port users and the CCTV is being manned 24 hours by the Security Department and the Port Terminal Operators (PTO). This was around 2006.
Today,’ Wharf rats’ as they are popularly called are the miscreants and professional pilferers who help themselves to bits and pieces of your consignment whenever they can. They know their ways around the ports, and they’re always on the lookout for cargoes to pilfer. Their nefarious acts is such that terminal operators have decried their increased activities especially at night when sometimes there is no light along the quay side.
Of course, they may not necessarily cart away all your cargoes; they just help themselves to the tiny parts that they could easily carry along in a quick and discrete getaway. Containers staked close to the berth are usually their target but other items like car headlights, stereo, battery, some cables, even computer parts are not spared. Just about anything goes, so long as it can be carried.
A recent case is that of an importer who sued the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal for N100million for his three containers that were looted while in Customs custody resulting to a blame game between the Customs and the terminal operators, Sapid Agencies Limited, is a typical example.
So many people are cautious with their goods at the port, especially in a situation where the said goods are not cleared immediately on arrival. Although the continuous clean up of the ports have reduced the menace of wharf rats, restricting access to quay areas of the ports by only authorized personnel, the rats still find a way to work their ways around the ports.
The terminal operators should recognize by now that the responsibility to secure their ports and terminals lies solely with them. Waiting for NPA and other government agencies to provide them with ports infrastructure might be a dream that will never come true.