The Presidential policy on Ease of Doing Business at seaports across the country seems to have failed as many of the government agencies are allegedly violating the executive order.
Against this backdrop, the Acting National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) Dr. Kayode Collins Farinto has called on the Federal Government to declare state of emergency in the maritime sector or suspend ease of doing business policy.
Besides, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman has threatened to seek the intervention of the Vice President Prof. YemiOsinbajo if the situation persists.
The office of the Vice President oversees the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which issued the presidential order. The order specially streamlined the activities of all agencies in the nation’s seaports to achieve the 24-hour cargo clearance.
Government agencies allowed at the ports are: Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigeria Police Force; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Department of State Security (DSS); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Port Health.
The NPA boss said the way some government agents flout the order has limited its positive impact and the Federal Government needs to know those flouting the rules.
She said that it was regrettable that some agencies have not fully complied with the order, one year after.
Assuring that the NPA would continue to fulfill its own part of the order, Usman lamented that the organisation has the limitation of compelling other agencies to do what they are supposed to do under the presidential directives.
Farinto said: “We hereby call for state of emergency or better suspend ease of doing business in the maritime sector because it is not working. Ministries, Directorates and Agencies (MDAs) behave to be bigger than the Federal Government they are working for and also flouting orders given by NPA with impunity and no sanctions meted to them. Are they now bigger than the country?
“We don’t need to pretend that there is total systems collapse in the maritime industry. The Federal Government should stop deceiving Nigerians and stop shouting about ease of doing business because it has been abused” he said.
He gave reasons for calling for the state of emergency to include dilapidated ports infrastructure and the extortion of agents by the Nigeria Customs Service.
He said “In view of the recent developments in the seaports and land borders, vis-a-vis dilapidated infrastructure in the ports like roads, non-existence of multimodal transport and the multiple checking points by the Customs and various extortions by the Maritime Police, and other government agencies not complying with the executive order. Failure of NCS to conform to the implementation of ease of doing business, double examination on containers, extortion of ANCLA members, Customs release and arrest and re-arrest of containers and above all, activities of FOU to query consignment base on low cargo and low value”.
Farinto, who is also the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment Nigeria Limited was very furious about the present state of the seaports and the land borders.
While lamenting the situation as well as extortion by NCS and maritime police on his members, he said: “The Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali is not bigger than Nigeria, he can not continue to flout the executive order and actions is yet to be taken. The Inspector General of Police should come to the port and see how the maritime police has left their statutory functions and now obtain manifest from shipping companies and be stopping containers and call agents for settlement in which at least N150,000 is been paid per container”.