December 12, 2013

NPA now indifferent about ports operations, say agents



•Want government to review authority’s function

By Godfrey Bivbere & Ifeyinwa Obi

A week after the protest by clearing agents which grounded operations at the Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), agents have accused the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of being jobless and only interested in collecting money.

A member of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tin Can Port chapter, Patrick Okafor, who spoke with Vanguard, said NPA is not concerned about what is happening in the ports any more.

According to Okafor, NPA is supposed to ensure that terminal operators have the necessary cargo handling tools for effective clearance of goods but stressed that the authority seems to be more interested in revenue they generate daily from importers, shipping lines etc.

“What are they doing with the money?”, he asked.

He further called on government to take a second look at the functions of NPA to make it relevant after the concession exercise because the authority has completely lost relevance.

It will be recalled that clearing agents last week grounded operations at the TICT over poor services being rendered by the terminal operator, one of the concessionaires of the nation’s ports in Lagos.

The action which saw the terminals operations grounded for several hours was done amid solidarity songs by the protesting agents.

The agents said that some of the problems  they currently face from terminal operators are delays in positioning containers for examination, poor performance of trade facilitation and inadequate trucks for conveying containers for scanning.

They also pointed out that other problems are additional shipping company charges, fake auction of fresh containers, poor space management, lack of holding bays, and manual documentation, among others.

The protesters, who were led by Comrade Chuks David Kanikwu, Secretary-General of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tin Can Island Port chapter and top officer of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Tin Can Island Port Chapter), were initially barred from access into the marketing hall of the terminal operator.

But after persuasion, the protesters had their way.

Speaking to the press on the development, Kanikwu said they had meetings with the management of TICT and that the management had promised to improve, as well as increase equipment to assuage the situation.