The Customs Area Controller (CAC) Apapa, Comptroller Abba Kura has reiterated that there is no congestion in Lagos ports.
Responding to a question during a visit by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on decongestion of Lagos ports and boosting patronage for Eastern ports, which visited Lagos port on Monday, the Customs Controller said the vehicular gridlock is attributable to infrastructural problems, and not attributable to congestion.
The committee which was led its chairman; Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub, is also investigating the non-functionality of ports located in the South-south part of the country.
Comptroller Kura, responding to a question raised by Hon. Ossy Prestige a member of the committee, as to why there is congestion at the Apapa Port, said there was no congestion at the port.
He said, rather the problem in the port are infrastructural problems, adding that the traffic in and out of the Apapa port has not been resolved due to lack of discipline.
He told the law makers that: “we have infrastructure problem in the port we don’t have congestion in the port, also lack of discipline has also contributed to this even the Vice President gave a 72 hours’ directive or deadline people still refuse to comply”.
“So many taskforces are put on the road, but we have seen what they are doing, they will collect money from truckers who are not on the line and allow them access into the port and those who are on the line or transit park will remain there for weeks and this have also contributed to the issue of traffic situation in Apapa”.
Prestige had earlier stated that the traffic gridlock at the Apapa Port is like a national embarrassment and therefore looking at how the committee can partner the customs in solving it.
Responding to why the command has yielded to physical examination of consignment when it is not so even in the other neighboring ports, the Comptroller stated that a lot of politics was played about the scanners and that is why the command is yet to get the scanners thereby leaving it with no choice, but to resolve to physical examination of cargoes. He also alleged that most importers are not honest.
“Yes there were scanners, but the ministry of Finance took away the scanners to those who cannot handle it properly, and that is why it is not working, even last week some people came to check it, so it has been like that, it has been in an epileptic kind of state; it will work today, and tomorrow it will just stop working so this is the situation of the scanner”, he explained.
On why the service is yet to comply with the single window directive, Kura stated that that single window is in place as they have the Standard Organization of Nigeria on Customs platform with other relevant agencies, he however admitted that not all agencies are on the platform.
He also told the lawmakers that what is happening in Nigeria s an aberration when compared o what obtains elsewhere.
“What is happening in Nigeria is different from what is happening in every other ports, you can only find customs at the other ports you won’t see different multi agencies at the port, but in Nigeria we have so many agencies of government in the port and this is not good enough”, he lamented.
The Chairman of the Committee, Yussuf Buba however stated that lack of synergy between the agencies has affected the implementation of the single window platform, he thereby urged relevant agencies to synergies together to have the single window in place.
The committee will be visiting the eastern ports of Warri, Calabar, Onne, Port Harcourt, to find a lasting solution to the issue of lack of patronage.
Hon Buba also earlier stated that “the government at the highest level has been doing everything to make sure the eastern port is put to work for instance when you talk about dredging which is a major factor why big vessels cannot move into the eastern ports.
“A lot of contracts have been given out for dredging and government has been paying money, but where you have lapses on the part of contractors not delivering or the agencies responsible to make sure these contracts are delivered have gone to sleep.
“If they have delivered or not, have they taken government money or taken public funds without delivering, that is what we will find out and other problems and make sure the ports are dredged. Once you dredge the ports, the vessels can move”, he noted.