Port stakeholders canvass strict enforcement of FG’s Executive Order
BY FRANCIS EZEM
One year after the Federal Government issued its Executive Order 1 on the Ease of Doing Business at the nation’s seaports, maritime stakeholders have made a strong case for the adoption of measures to enhance full enforcement and compliance with the order with a view to facilitating port efficiency.
Recall that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had on Thursday May 18, 2017 signed a five-trunk order covering transparency, default approvals, one government, entry experience of travelers and visitors and ports operations, aimed at improving the business environment in Nigeria, as it contained far-reaching measures with direct benefits for businesses in the country in line with government’s commitment to ease of doing business.
This call was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day seminar with the theme: “The gains and challenges of Presidential Order on ease of doing business in Nigeria’ organised in Lagos recently by Primetime Reporters Online Newspaper.
The stakeholders had observed that one year after the issuance of the order, the access roads leading to the various seaports in Lagos, especially the Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Ports Complex, both in Apapa are still in terrible state of disrepair and that the touted 24-hour port operation has remained a mirage in the face of infrastructure decay and non-availability of some key government officials to effectively carry out their duties and responsibilities to the importing public.
They had also observed that the National Single Window Project, which started several years before Ghana’s was yet to be operational, while physical examination of imported cargo has become the norm due to the absence of scanners with the attendant delays and increased cost of doing business associated with the payment of demurrage and other related rent charges, among several others.
As part measures to ensure the realisation of the benefits of the executive order, the stakeholders therefore charged the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council PEBEC, to quicken the contractor handling the two- kilometer Wharf Road, Apapa to speed up the construction, while the management of the Nigeria Customs Service should be more interested in trade facilitation instead of raking in higher revenue with attendant delays and hiccups to trade processes.
They also made a strong case for the installation of scanning machines in all the seaports and border stations to ensure that import and export goods are examined electronically as a step towards speedy process of cargo evacuation, which would go a long way in reducing sharp practices and other corrupt tendencies at the ports.
The stakeholders also sought the completion of the Tin Can Island Port Truck Terminal as well as setting up other trucking bays to reduce the gridlock on port access roads and that key stakeholders in the maritime industry should be consulted before trade policies and laws were to check the current prevalence of weak and poor policy implementation.
They also called on the Federal Government to strengthen the various institutions and agencies so that they can effectively control, sanction and reward stakeholders who may breach such ethics while efforts should also be made to develop seaports and fully utilise existing ones in other parts of the country to encourage business activities in these areas, among several other recommendations.
In attendance at the event were the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, who was represented by an official of the council, Miss Adaora Nwaonu, National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf and former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke, among several others.