The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) says streamlining the boarding of vessels at Nigerian ports by government agencies is aimed at curbing corruption.
The National Coordinator of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), an enforcement arm of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Comrade Moses Fadipe, said this in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday.
Fadipe said during a courtesy visit to the newly appointed Lagos State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Commandant Usman Alfadarai.
He added that the Presidency had also approved the inclusion of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) in the PSTT.
According to him, agencies that partake in vessel inspection include Port Health, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and the Department of State Services (DSS).
He said boarding of ships at Nigerian ports in the past was a free for all affair, but presently agencies allowed to check visiting ships must carry out their activities within a timeline.
“There are some agencies like the NDLEA, DSS and even the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) that board at their convenience but will adhere to the rule of the game.
“When boarding, there is a muster point where you de-robe yourself, the only thing following you into the ship is identity card; any money on you must be dropped.
“If you are returning from the ship and money is seen on you, we will confiscate it.
“The NDLEA and DSS also board the vessel and spend 30 minutes, if they spend more time than that, it means there is credible intelligence for them to do so,” he said.
He noted that the Corruption Perception Index 2018, in which Nigeria ranked 157 out of the 161 nation in Africa, became a source of worry for the Federal Government, and this gave birth to the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM).
“This creation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) on March 3, 2021, led to the combination of Standard Operating Procedure of all agencies at the port and their timelines,” he said.
Fadipe stated that the activities of the PSTT had saved vessel captains 20,000 dollars spent before now.
He said last year, Nigeria won an award in Basel, Switzerland for fighting corruption.
He also said movement of vessels from Anchorage to berth in Lagos was averagely five hours in the past, but had dropped to 90 minutes presently.
While explaining the mandate of the Task Team to the NSCDC.
Fadipe pointed out that PSTT was not drafted to the port to control traffic or port gridlock: “The government asked PSTT to stop the extortion tendencies fueling gridlock and congestion at the ports.
“This was why we later allowed other agencies to come in, we brought in the police, customs, FRSC, Lagos government and Local Governments.”
Fadipe urged the NSCDC Commandant to provide a good operational vehicle for the NSCDC team to enable the corp keep up with other members of the team when on sting operations.
Responding, Alfadarai commended the activities of the PSTT and the Nigerian Shippers Council, adding that the activities of the PSTT would no doubt increase ship calls in Nigeria.
He pointed out that it would make Nigerian ports more attractive for business, and that Nigeria would no longer lose businesses to Benin Republic and Lome ports.
“The issue of port congestion and traffic gridlock in Apapa Port was a major challenge in the past, but since the PSTT came in; it has come down.
“We shall support the work of the task team because the key element in our mandate is to assist in maintenance of peace and order across the nation.
“Lagos State with the largest population is always congested and really needs peace and order, practically, 80 per cent of the things we use in the country comes through Lagos, so there is need for peace and order at the port,” he said.
He promised to look into the provision of vehicles for the NSCDC team as the assignment was very important.