The House of Representative Committee on marine transport has alleged that there are 22 illegal jetties in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, even as it gave operators of such facilities to legalise their activities before the end of the year.
Briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt last week after its fact- finding visit to some of the jetties, chairman of the committee, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi explained that the visit was an eye opener, even as he confirmed large scale violation of laid down guidelines and several illegalities at all the jetties visited by his committee.
The lawmakers’ claim also puts paid to earlier speculations that Port Harcourt alone harbours almost 42 illegal private jetties.
According to him, contrary to the recent claim by the Comptroller General of customs, Alhaji Hamman Bello Ahmed that there is only one private jetty, there are several private jetties in Rivers state and they all have custom officers posted there.
He enjoined jetty operators to stick to the terms of their licenses which must be up to date and all prescribed payments must be duly made. He warned that the government will not hesitate to shut down any private jetty that refused to comply with laid rules and procedures. “Rule of law and due process must prevail on jetties regulation in the country”, he emphasized.
Consequently the management of Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) was directed to ensure compliance with all guidelines governing operations of private jetties in Nigeria.
But some of the jetty operators claimed ignorance of any illegality in their operations, claiming that issues bordering on illegality have never been brought to their notice before.
Responding on behalf of jetty operators in Port Harcourt, managing director of Eastern Bulkcem Company, V. I. Nehikhare thanked the chairman and house members for their magnanimity in giving them till the end of the year to formalize and regularize their operating documents.
The briefing was also attended by representatives of some of the allegedly illegal private jetties as well as management of Eastern Ports Zone of NPA as well as the executive director, marine and operations, Ms Aina Egharevba, among others.