By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Shippers Association, Lagos State (SALS) has backed the probe of the missing 282 vessels at Nigerian Ports, by the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise & Tariff and Marine Transport.
The Association in a statement by its President, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said the infractions have been going on for a long time but complaints by its members fell on deaf ears.
It maintained that officials of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) ignored all such complaints.
When members reported missing vessels, the association said, “Investigations were done haphazardly. Every allegation raised by the Senate Committee seems to have an iota of truth and as such, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should provide a pathway to unravel the ugly recurring incidence.
“The Senate Committee is only trying to rebuild a new platform for a sustainable and progressive Nigerian Maritime that will be a future pride for Nigerian and Nigeria in the international Community. Our association is keen to see a new port Order with an un-stained flag”, the shippers said.
According to the organization, ship owners collude with importers to evade paying customs duties; a situation the Association had sought audience with the present MD of the NPA without success.
SALS said the infraction has led Nigeria to loss huge revenue and commended the Senate for acting promptly to block the revenue leakages at the Port.
The Association urged Nigerians to support the Senate in the probe by providing useful information to assist members of the Committee in its task instead of the blackmail currently mounted by some Nigerians to derail the probe and divert attention from the monumental loss in revenue at Ports.
“Nigerians on genuine efforts to better the lot of the country should be supported in all ramifications and not any cheap blackmail to discourage them because it will not lead us any where”, the Association added.
While calling for better synergy among Ports operators, the President said the Association remains firmly committed to be fair and unbiased to all stakeholders in the industry and was prepared to work with the NPA to provide useful information on the leakages in the maritime sector.
The Senate’s Joint Committee on Customs, Excise & Tariff and Marine Transport headed by Senator Hope Uzodimma had recently raised alarm on the whereabouts of over 282 vessels allegedly missing from the sea ports and summoned the NPA MD to appear before it.
The Committee said that over N30 trillion was lost through leakages in NCS and other agencies, blaming a port cabal that had defrauded the nation over the years.