From left: Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi clarifies an issue with the Executive Secretary/ CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello at the stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting on the Nigerian Port Process Manual NPPM, held in Abuja, Tuesday.

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council NSC has said that strict enforcement and adherence to the Nigerian Port Process Manual NPPM by corporate and individual stakeholders was key to enthroning a regime of transparency in port operations in the country.

Recall.that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on December 9, 2020 in Abuja appointed the NSC as the lead agency to implement the NPPM, designed to reduce corruption at the ports and improve Nigeria’s ranking on the CPI. 

Executive Secretary/ CEO of the council, Hassan Bello, who spoke at sensitisation meeting for government agencies and stakeholders in the maritime industry on the implementation of the NPPM held in Abuja, Tuesday, said the manual was key to enhancing transparency in the country’s maritime industry.

He also observed that the high dwell time of cargo at the ports, which many believe is caused by the endemic and systemic corruption will no longer be tolerated, as it does not conform to international best practice.

 “There is urgent need to reduce dwell time of cargo from the current 21 days to the regional average of seven days. The Nigerian Shippers Council is not only looking at the ease of doing business but also at the high cost of doing business. “The electronic call up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority would aid in easing the current traffic situation around the port”, he said.

Bello therefore solicited the support and cooperation of sister agencies to ensure the manual is fully implemented in order to improve the ranking of Nigeria in the Corruption Perception Index CPI.

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, at whose instance the meeting was convened, and who attended in person along with the top officials of the Federal Ministry Transport, to underscore the importance of the NPPM, said it was designed to sanitise Nigeria’s port system.

The Minister, who delivered a keynote address, emphasised the enormity of the responsibility placed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in driving the process and urged other government agencies and the generality of the public to cooperate with it.

From left: Head TUGAR, Lilian Ekeanyanwu, MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, ES/CEO NSC, Hassan Bello and DG NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh at the event.

Meanwhile, Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwoolu, while speaking at the event, disclosed that the state was on top of the Apapa gridlock situation.

Represented by the Commissioner of Transport, Dr. Fredrick Oladeyinde the governor said: “We are working with the NPA to make sure truck parks are established along logistics routes. Lagos has given out 31 hectares of land for these truck parks for instance. We will continue to work with key stakeholders to ensure we develop the best port system in Africa.”

Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, while speaking at the event, decried the high incidences of corruption and insecurity, which he identified as the biggest challenge faced by the ports, however assured that the methods of addressing these issues are embedded in the NPPM.

“Our industry can only be sustained in terms of economic growth if we have sustainable systems in place to make the ports attractive”, he said.

Managing Director NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman on her part, said that the Key Performance Indicators KPI of the various agencies in the maritime industry are closely related therefore there was the need for seamless cooperation and integration of relevant agencies.

The NPA, she promised would ensure compliance with the manual and invoke sanctions where necessary for non-compliance.

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, while speaking at event, pledged the cooperation of the service towards successful enforcement of the manual, adding the Customs would in addition deploy sophisticated modern scanners to replace physical examination.

The CG, who was represented by the acting Comptroller, in charge of tariff, Suleiman Chiroma added that at the time of physical examination, all relevant agencies should be present and failure to comply would mean exemption.

A highpoint of the event was the official presentation of the Port Service Support Portal PSSP, which will be the primary tool to drive the implementation of the NPPM.

Other dignitaries at the event include Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, head, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms TUGAR, Ms. Lillian Ekeanyanwu and National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, among several others.