Anakebe advocates for “surgical operation” on Nigerian seaports

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…Bemoans slow pace of road reconstruction in Apapa

The Managing Director of Goldlink Investment Limited, Sir Tony Anakebe has advocated a “surgical operation” on the nation’s seaport so as to bring them at par with their contemporaries across the globe and in line with global best practices.

Anakebe who made this call in a chat with newsmen in Lagos recently recalled that they had been talking about Apapa gridlock for more than eight years now even as he said that they were getting frustrated as nothing seemed to change.

“You can’t believe that to load at second gate since Thursday, I cannot load up till now because no vehicle could enter the port. Even the one that entered has not been able to come out several days after because of gridlock. Today, we have gone to get additional terminal charges and all this money are going into private pockets. So, why are we talking about this access road every time and nobody is doing anything?

“Now, they have awarded it to a contractor, it is true they are working on it but the pace of work on this road is as slow as anything. It is not moving fast. The contractor of that road should work on it day and night with all the necessary security provided for them so that the reconstruction will end as quickly as possible and pave the way for people to carry on their businesses. But you can’t tell me that you have been on this road now close to one year and they are still handling from Apapa port to Tincan second gate. In fact, what is happening in this Apapa for the past ten years, only God knows the trillions Nigerians have lost here.

“How can we survive? Nigerians must bring in their goods, industries must bring in their raw materials but the problem is, how many agents have we lost in this Apapa in the last eight years? It is uncountable, not to talk of the transporters. It is a great risk everybody is taking coming to Apapa. Even the residents of Apapa, some of them have packed out of Apapa and if you come to Apapa, you will see that many buildings are up for sale. The risk is so much but people have to manage their lives and be praying to God for protection”, he said.

On the collection of the Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF) by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), he said, “It is all about the politics of association in the maritime industry and you know there is a lot of division in the associations. So, all these things give the government the power to continue to exploit the freight forwarders and as you can see, most of the associations are divided. Even the ones that are not divided, within the associations, none of them can sit down and articulate what should be done to better the lots of the practitioners.

“It is a means the government has employed to whittle down the power of the freight forwarders. Some associations will support CRFFN and some associations say they don’t believe in it, let us see what this year will look like.”

On denial of access to unregistered freight forwarders to the port by CRFFN, the MD maintained that there was no need for one to enter the port if such a person is not registered adding that a visit to the port would reveal a lot of people roaming inside the port, people that had nothing to do in the port.

“But even if the freight forwarders were able to reduce the number of people entering the port by insisting that only registered freight forwarders gain entry into the port, what of the dock workers? Will they also reduce the number of dock workers that go into the port? We know of recent that wharf rats have entered Tincan Island port again, where are they coming from? Most of these security men that you see at the port, they planted these wharf rats; they are working hand in hand with them.

“If you allow me to suggest, we need a surgical operation of our ports”, he concluded.

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