By UDEME CLEMENT
The pronouncement by the Federal Government on removal of eight agencies from the ports to facilitate trade in line with global trend is generating ripples in the maritime industry. While government said the initiative was necessary to curtail revenue leakages and curb corruption in the system, others believed three of the affected agencies have statutory duties to discharge in the ports.
We must streamline operations in the ports to facilitate trades and boost revenue generation – Minister of Finance, Mrs. Okonjo Iweala- Our ports must function efficiency to create jobs and boost revenue generation for government to manage the economy like what is obtainable globally.
For us to achieve this, members of the economic management team and members of the task force set up by the president are going to deliberate with relevant stakeholders on measures to be put in place to streamline operations in the ports to reduce time.
Also, a committee would be set up to tackle the issue with a view to ensuring that the nation’s ports function well. The initiative by government to streamline operations in the ports is important because it would encourage an efficient ports system to reduce the cost of doing business in the ports.
Beyond this, we would ensure that Port and Harbour bill is passed into law to enhance efficiency in the. Officers of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) should work 24 hours to make our ports function efficiently. Our duty is to implement the action of government on the medium and long team development strategy geared towards rapid economic transformation.
Government should provide basic infrastructure- Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar- The ports plays a crucial role in economic growth and development. In that capacity, the Federal Government would provide basic infrastructure to ensure that the ports functions effectively. This would in turn enhance smooth operations in the ports. Government is holding already holding discussions on how to provide good access road to the ports.
Government should recall three agencies with statutory duties in the ports- The founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Okechukuw Aniebonam- There is urgent need for government to recall Standards Organisations of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to the nation’s ports, because these agencies have statutory role to play.
The exit of SON would pave the way for influx of fake and substandard products into the country. Also, removing NAFDAC means paving the way for massive importation of fake drugs into the country and the duty of NDLEA in tackling drugs related issues in ports is very important.
Government should have a rethink and recall them to prevent some desperate importers from flooding the markets with substandard good that would not give consumers value for their money. Also, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should carry out its responsibility of providing offices for these agencies within the ports to fast track the process of inspection and clearing of containers.