Shippers’ Council, NPA, Others Collaborate On Joint Vessel Boarding

.Comptroller, Lagos Sea-Port Marine Command, Nigeria Immigration Services, Ayo Arogundade, Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Doris Braimah, Assistant Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Services at the meeting of Nigerian Shippers’ Council with other agencies on joint boarding of vessels on Friday at the Shippers Council head office in Apapa

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other government agencies on Thursday disclosed the need to jointly collaborate to inspect vessels.

The other government agencies are: Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Port Health and Department of State Security Service (DSS).

Presiding over a meeting of the agencies, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, noted that joint boarding of vessels was the international best practice around the world.

According to him, the European Union and the entire global shipping community have complained incessantly on the delays at Nigerian ports which also lead to economic consequences on the nation.

“Shipping is time bound and we face serious competition from other ports in the region. Why should Nigeria have 22 days ship turnaround time when our neighbours achieve it in 7 days?

“I am happy with the collaboration and commitment of all the government agencies.

“This development, coupled with the impending disappearance of traffic gridlock, will see shipping play its significant role in Nigeria’s economic development,” he said.

Also, the General Manager, Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Mrs Eniola Williams , who represented NPA’s Managing Director, assured that there would be sanctions for agencies that  fail to comply with the new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for inspecting vessels.

“Each agency has its law with sanctions for offenders and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, at the launch of Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), emphasised the need to invoke sanctions.

“The people who come in via these ships are making first contact with Nigeria through that joint inspection and it is good we display integrity and take it seriously,” she said.

She noted that NPA desired to have the leading ports in Africa, adding that in attaining that, there was need to ensure that processes are timely, efficient and free from corruption.

“NPA is taking this very seriously and we are working with other agencies and on the issue of joint boarding; this refers to people who represent Nigeria onboard ships from other nations,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of Customs, the Deputy Controller, Administration, Idiroko Border, Dera Nnadi said that integrity had to be prioritised in the joint exercise.

According Nnadi,  each agency should provide its mandate with respect to onboard ship inspection.

Nnadi suggested that the mandate of various government agencies on ship inspection should be availed for the NPPM team and they should be measured with the reports from ship captains after inspections.

The customs chief also harped on the need for the joint team to engage shipping lines to prioritise integrity, noting that some shipping companies have adopted integrity as their watchword.

Under this arrangement, all agencies involved in inspecting ships will go onboard together to carry out their respective inspection as contained in their Acts.

The event also featured the inauguration of a Port Standing Task Team to enforce compliance with the SOPs and Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) to make the maritime sector efficient and competitive.

The joint boarding team consists of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Department of State Services, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Nigeria Customs Service and the Port Health Services.