Stakeholders in the maritime industry have expressed divergent views over plans to return some government agencies such as the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and others to the port.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that as part of efforts to implement the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business at the seaports signed in 2017 by the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) said that only seven agencies are authorized to operate in the port.
NPA however said the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) were no longer allowed to have representatives in the port or partake in the process of cargo clearance.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Shipping Position Daily last week, the National President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Mr Increase Uche told our correspondent that NDLEA and NAFDAC are already operating in the port, leaving SON which according to him, plays more vital role than NAFDAC. He also stated that NAFDAC should be a sub-agency under SON.
In his words: “NAFDAC is already operating at the port. It is only SON that has not been given full access into the port. Looking at the two agencies, I think SON has more critical roles to play and their relevance at the port is needed more. There is no need to deny them from the port to check the influx of substandard and fake products. Under normal circumstances, they should be a sub-agency under SON”.
He however noted that due to the nature of port operations at the moment where there is partial deployment of technology, there is a need for SON to be at the port. “But when technology is deployed, I think there should be some exemptions” Uche concluded.
However, the National President of the National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), Prince Adeyinka Bakare said there is no need for these agencies to return to the ports, even as he stated that when the attention of these agencies are needed during port process, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) will invite those concerned.
“The Government said they should reduce their presence at the port because of some operational issues. What are they coming to do? Customs will call for their presence when the need arises. We need to be more organized in this country” Bakare argued.
On his part, the National Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANLCA), Mr. Babatunde Mukaila told our correspondent that there is no basis for the return of the agencies to the port. He said the agencies can effectively monitor all transactions through the single window platforms.
“There is no basis for their return. All transactions are visible to them by single window platforms. They can request further check at the importer warehouses, in case they are in doubt of any transactions. Moreover, they have their personnel at examination points already” Mukaila noted.
Speaking on the aspect of technology in cargo clearing, Mr. Segun Musa a freight forwarder said the world has gone beyond agencies’ physical presence in the port, even as he noted that stakeholders in the industry are all proposing that port operations should be automated.
“It must have been an afterthought for anyone proposing such now, because we cannot be dragged back to the stone age. We are presently proposing that the operations of the port should be automated. How can anybody be proposing analogue operations again? There is no reason why the NAFDAC, SON, or any other agency should return to the port” Musa said.
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