Develop eastern ports, decentralize importation activities, CREFFPON urges FG


…Seeks restructuring or outright proscription of Presidential Easy of Doing Business Council, others

In view of a congested and saturated ports in the Western zone resulting in longer dwell time at the port and unprecedented extortion at the ports, the Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) has made a passionate appeal to the federal government to develop the ports in the Eastern zone as well as decentralize importation activities in the country.

CREFFPON in a statement released in Lagos recently by Mr. Edwin Chuwudire-Obi said that it had noted the federal government thoughts as canvassed through one of its agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation having declared the eastern ports as not being economic and operational viable.

It pointed out that the declaration seemed to be a position taken by the government on the heels of urgent calls and clamours by the importing public and port stakeholders for the diversification and decentralization of shipping operations to the eastern ports even doing so in the face of an obvious congested, choked and saturated western ports with its rapid dilapidating and decaying ports and road infrastructures.

According to the group, “The CREFFPON after a careful system study and analyzing the unfolding events and development within the maritime industry, especially in the port value adding supply chain, resolved as follows:

“That Presidential Ease of Doing Business in the Nigerian ports is not the function of global rating but of the realities on ground. Therefore, since this noble initiative has failed to achieve its objectives in the port system, it should be either restructured or proscribed. More so, as port competitiveness and cost of doing business in the ports has skyrocketed far above comparable continental ports industry average with regards to the cargo handling and clearance costs.

“That the unwillingness to dredge the eastern  waterfront effectively; the non-provision of adequate port infrastructures/facilities in the eastern ports and the cold feet at evolving a new shipping policy to the effect of engendering import decentralization and the deployment of shipping policy that suggests a subtle subjection to continuous use of the western ports of Apapa, with its  present too many extortive tools embedded in the clearance process – is nothing but a deliberate plot to continuously exploit, reduce the investment and trading capitals and capacity of the trading community who are actually striving to drive the sustenance of our nation’s economy via tax and revenue generation and visible wealth creation.

“That the following agencies, committees and facilities are more driven  by revenue interests and not really solution driven to ease or cushion the ongoing sufferings and extortion against imported goods into the Apapa Lagos ports, hence we classify them as classical extortion tools against imported goods into the country:

“a. To the CREFFPON, the Apapa gridlock appears to be a designed extortive tool on itself, seemingly conceptualize over time by vested interest. Else how can it be said that a government which has an oversight functions over the concerned  agency never queried nor sacked management team of the concerned  agencies  over its gross failures and lack of deploying prompt managerial capacity with regards to ports infrastructural forecast, planning and maintenance objectives. It cannot be said a seasoned management team suddenly forgot that the Apapa  port access road is prone to high import volume, increased vehicular, cargo movement activities and water log prone as well. Obviously administrative road capacity forecast and planning in the face of yearly increasing cargo traffic failed. Wherefore, it is a common sense to know that, the so called Apapa gridlock can best be described as man made with a motive as unfolded.

“b. The immediate disbanded presidential task team on Apapa gridlock. The reconstitution of same as now Ministerial Committee saddled with same task, is a mere act of baptismal of name. The extortion continues. However, reasonable free flow of traffic within the Apapa Port environment was recorded this (last) week. The Committee showed cause that it can actually push the trucks into the streets and access road within the neighborhood boundary, Surulere, Ojuelegba, Amuwo, Satellite town, etc, not minding the associated menace therein. The question on the lips of the port users is: “Can it be sustain?”

“c. The unregulated and uncoordinated trucking systems is a notorious extortion, an organized enterprises and gang up against the imported goods into the Nigeria ports.

“d. The divided and uncoordinated interests of the police and their incessant interference in cargo clearance and interception along cargo delivery routes, too many unholy check points in the port system.

“e. The unregulated extortive, subjective and intimidative tendencies of the terminal operators and shipping lines, theirs is a classical extortion redefined.

“f. The endless checks points as instituted by the Nigeria Customs Service via varies of units, squads and task-forces, with their operational highhandedness and frivolous demand notices and the un-streamlined, incessant alert issuance, etc,

“g. The overlapping functions, revenue driven interests and inherent administrative extortion of the products regulatory agencies and the recruitment of camp boys at will, are another extortion points.

“h. The administrative inefficiency on the part of the Council For The Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria – CRFFN, hence, it woefully failed to institute professionalism in the freight forwarding sub-sector of the maritime economy hence, the absent of professional scale of charges in the freight forwarding profession, promoting non competitiveness in the system.”

“It is in the light of the forgoing  that the CREFFPON calls on the Federal Government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) to take a cursory looks of the happenings in the maritime (port) Industry as enumerated above, to stem all manner of extortion and sufferings in the port system which multiplier effects is passed on to the consuming public. We urge the federal government to widening and focus its searchlight on the port Industry. Equally, it should consider the need to evolve a new shipping policy to cushion these thriving acts of extortion.

“The CREFFPON may be compelled to mobilize both the trading public and international trading partner if these unwholesome acts of extortion and exploitation continue. Obviously, we can no longer fold our arms and allow the continuous financial investment loses and calculated arm-twists against the trading public (who are our clients) via this man made extortive mechanisms”, it added.

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