The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has lamented the high level of corruption among government officials, especially those who go onboard vessel on arrival at the ports and those in charge of cargo examination at the ports.
Speaking on Friday at a press conference, Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello disclosed that the council has made some arrests and seized money from officers during vessel boarding activities.
Justifying the allegation, Bello disclosed that the Council has had cause to recover a bribe of $14,000 from a government official who had boarded a vessel.
“We have made arrest and have money ceased from officers’ inspection on board vessel, we have recovered bribe of $14,000 as the lead agency in the execution of the port process manual we are working to ensure that all corrupt tendencies are removed”, he assured.
He said the various infarctions were because Nigerian ports were yet to be fully automated.
“A port isn’t a place for contact. We are trying to achieve this 100% automation. To achieve this, we need full integration with banks, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), terminals and shipping lines, among other stakeholders”
He stated that the council, being the lead agency in the execution of the Port Process Manual will not hesitate to get rid of all corrupt tendencies in the port through digitalization and automation of the port system.
Bello informed that the Council is working hard to achieve 90 percent automation across all aspects of port operations before the end of the second quarter of 2021.
He however expressed optimism that activities of shipping lines and terminals will attain a minimum of 90 percent automation by June, adding that digitalization would help curb delays and boost efficiency, thereby reducing revenue leakages in the port.
He further said that the absence of scanners which has result to 100 percent physical examination of cargoes could mar the realization of the port automation goal. He however expressed delight at the electronic truck call-up system introduced by Nigerian Ports Authority, and the already automated services of some shipping lines and port terminals.
According to him, “We shouldn’t forget that we have competition. Nigeria ports should be the hub in the West and Central Africa region. However, we can’t achieve this without ports that are fully automated and operate 24 hours daily. Most ports across the world are digitized. Human contact is dangerous; it brings delays and extortion.”
The NSC boss also reiterated its commitment to ensuring that container deposit is removed and replaced with insurance.
He said that in 2018 alone, Nigeria paid a total sum of N16 billion as container deposit, and that on cargo claims and damages alone, more than N387 million was paid, even as is he expressed optimism that before the end of second quarter of 2021, approval for removal of container deposit would have been granted.
“We pay N16 billion as container deposit in 2018, that is not acceptable and container deposit will be removed soon, we are working with NAICOM and the Shipping Companies are aligned with this, by the end of this quarter, we hope we would have gotten approval to remove container deposit”, he said.