… to resume clampdown on extortion on port access roads
The Port Standing Task Team (PSST) said it has saved the nation’s economy over N5.4 billion (equivalent to $12,350) as demurrage to ocean going vessels between year 2021 and 2022.
The National Coordinator of PSST, Mr. Moses Fadipe disclosed this in Lagos on Wednesday at an enlarged meeting of the Presidential Port Standing Task Team to review activities of the task team in theyear 2022.
Fadipe said the amount represented an average vessel demurrage of $20,000 per day adding that through the intervention of the task team more than 85% of vessels that called at Nigerian ports and terminals left without incident in 2021.
Other successes recorded by the task team according to him are drastic reduction in incidences of extortions by both state and non-state actors, and free movement of vehicles and persons along the ports’ logistics ring.
He said, “Even though revenue generation is not the primary concern of the task team, deterrence through fines is one of the tools through which we are able to record our successes of “Operation Free the Port Corridors”.
“In the process, revenues to the tune of N1,023,000 have accrued to the FG TSA through fines. The task team cannot ascertain how much was generated to the FG through vehicle documents regularization, however, a lot has also accrued to the government in that regard.”
He added, “Through the intervention of the task team, we have witnessed improved cargo dwell time, ship turn-around time, berth occupancy, rate efficiency, speedy cargo delivery, reduced congestion, and created more space thereby increasing the efficiency of the yard capacity.
“Reduced under-the-table cost of cargo clearance at the ports (illegal demands in the ports) and elimination of bureaucratic bottlenecks faced by port users thereby improving duty collection.
“Drastic reduction in sample taking by unauthorized persons and agencies and for the authorized agencies, we are advancing towards moderate sampling for both homogenous and heterogenous cargos.
“Improvement in the number of containers examined daily from an average of 120 in the past to 230 containers at present at both Lagos Port and Tin-Island Port.”
Fadipe assured that the successes recorded would be sustained while new strategies would be introduced to consolidate and surpass the previous gains.
He, however, noted that the achievement recorded did not come without occasional hazards such as assaults on personnel of the task team, which were carried out by private operators and high-ranking government officials.
He also lamented that over 70 extortion points which were earlier dismantled outbound the port corridor are now beginning to return gradually on the inbound lane.
He said the task team beginning from Monday 3rd April will resume its clampdown on the various extortion points mounted by security agencies including Customs, police and touts along the port corridor.
“It is important to consciously partake in proffering effective and sustainable solutions in partnership like this. I am confident that today’s meeting, whose objective is to review activities in 2022 and strategise for 2023, will come up with strong resolutions going forward.
“Operation Free the Port Corridor is an action plan put in place by the collaborative efforts of the Federal Government agencies and private stakeholders in the port supported by the Federal Ministry of Transportation to rid the port corridors of impediments and corrupt practices.
“There was a realisation that stoppage of trucks along the port corridor constitute the biggest encumbrance to the free flow of traffic and this breeds extortion and corrupt practices.
“Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Transportation had on April 14, 2022 flagged off the exercise to remove all illegal checkpoints and shanties along the port corridor to eliminate traffic gridlock and corrupt practices that have been impediments to ease of doing business.
“On strategies for the year, we will not dwell on challenges, we focus on the best we can do to achieve what we can within the resources at our disposal. This is the spirit that we will continue with,” he said.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke at the meeting decried the activities of state actors and non-state actors along the port corridor, urging the PSTT to address it.
Secretary General, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Muhammed Bala while appreciating the efforts of the task team said that the extortion checkpoints that were removed had returned on the port corridor.
“The touts have technically crossed to the inbound section of the port access road and caused so much havoc there. Truckers are profusely bleeding due to the activities of these people. From Mile 2 down to Second Gate, these touts are littered there,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, Mr Aloga Ogbogbo noted that the extortion along port corridors now takes place at odd hours.
Ogogbo urged the task team to extend their operations to cover the odd hours that the touts operate.