BY YUSUF BABALOLA |
Nigeria seaports are losing several billions of naira and competitiveness in the West, Central African sub-region to inability to operate 24-hour port operations, LEADERSHIP has learnt.
Despite the federal government order on 24 hour port operations at all Nigerian seaports four years ago, the order has yet to be implemented by relevant government agencies saddled with that responsibility at the nation’s points of entry.
In May 2017, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) had signed an executive order directing the resumption of 24-hour operations at the Apapa port and out rightly banned touting by officials or unofficial persons at any port; be it air, land and sea ports in Nigeria.
Prof. Osinbajo who was the then acting president said in the Order that, “the Apapa Port shall resume 24-hour operations within 30 days of the issuance of this Order and there shall be no touting whatsoever by official or unofficial persons at any port in Nigeria.’’
However, four years down the line, 24-hour port operations have yet to commence in Nigerian seaports and agencies sacked from operating at the seaports had returned to participate in physical examination of cargoes.
Maritime stakeholders have however lamented that Nigeria is the only country whose ports do not operate 24 hours, saying that the country was losing several billions of naira in terms of revenue as goods are being shipped to neighboring countries that are very efficient in the management of their ports.
They argued that 24-hour port operations will reduce the number of days for clearing goods as well as make the ports more competitive even as they say Nigeria is the only port working from 9am to 5pm in the world while other ports operate 24 hours.
The managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, accused some federal government agencies operating at the ports of disobeying the directive and executive order signed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on ensuring 24-hour port operations and synergy among such agencies.
The NPA boss stated that apart from the NPA, other federal government agencies had refused to obey the executive order and no sanction had been handed down to them.
Usman said, “If you recall there is an executive order that was signed by the Vice-President which directed all agencies of government to conduct inspection (of containers) in one location.
“Certain agencies of government have not complied and one of the things we have said is sanctioning for non-compliance of an executive order that was released cannot be done by the Nigerian ports.
“If an agency of government violates an executive order signed by the Vice-President, I believe the Vice-President and indeed the Presidency should sanction that agency for non-compliance but that has not been done. The executive order sought to have all agencies do inspection in one location hence consignees don’t have to have multiple areas of inspection.”