By Godfrey Bivbere
Government agencies in the maritime industry are ignoring the Federal Government’s directive that they should jointly board vessels calling at the nation’s ports to carry out their duties.
The agencies include, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, the Department of State Security, DSS, the Nigerian Quarantine Service, NQS and others.
The government’s directive was as a result of complaints by ship owners that most of these agencies are using the opportunity to extort the crew of ships that call at the nation’s ports.
While it is normal for the NQS to first board a visiting ship alone, all the others are expected to board at the same time.
But sources at the ships told Vanguard Maritime Report that the agencies are still bording separately especially the DSS which claim that it is for security reasons.
Stakeholders at a public event in Lagos decried the agencies disregard of the directive, stressing that their actions breed corruption.
Speaking on the issue, Director Regulatory Services of Nigerian Shippers Council, Celine Ifeora, said at the function that findings during her visit to the ports, showed that there was still no unified boarding.
Deputy Comtroller of Customs, Dera Nnadi, noted that he supervises officers of the Service that board vessels and that they have heard that the process separate boarding bring abuses.
Nnadi said the standard procedure globally is that such officers on duty are allowed to accept tea or food from the crew but not gift. He assured that all agencies involved are aware of the development and are working at curbing it. He further noted that if it is true that the exercise is being abused, then both the giver and the receiver are liable.
Also speaking on the issue, General Manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Igini, explained that it is important that all officials of the various government agencies should desist from taking tea or food to maintain their integrity.
He stressed the need for a unified inspection regime by all the relevant government agencies.