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How we’re tackling corruption in maritime operations – NPA MD



How we’re tackling corruption in maritime operations – NPA MD

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is taking strong action to tackle unhealthy trends in maritime trade to build confidence in the system, its acting chief executive, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said.

He told reporters in Lagos on Sunday that one of the measures was a general redeployment of security officials who had been on their guard for a long time.

“What we found out is that there are security officials who have been working in the area we call the red zone, which has been the Tin Can, Apapa area, for four, five or six years, and they are still there.

“We have asked that they be posted there and that a new set of people who will actually and truly work for Nigeria be brought there.

“We have had cases where we have tried to establish proof of people who were allegedly extorted because you have to have proof, but there is none.

“So what we’ve done now is look at how many checkpoints should be on the roads. We had a meeting with all the security agencies about three weeks ago and agreed to form a team and identify how many checkpoints we should have along this corridor.

“If we identified six checkpoints, for example, that means when you wake up the next day and find 16 checkpoints, that means there are 10 illegal checkpoints.

“It was also agreed that it is quite normal that all security formations, be it LASTMA, the police, the army or the NPA, which send security agents to the checkpoints, have the names officers posted at each checkpoint.

“We think if we do this, and there is evidence of extortion on a certain date, in a certain location, then we should be able to know the officers involved.

“But the interesting fact about all of this is that things have moved on now. Now you have boys from the area they call “ECOMOG boys” doing the collection for them.

“A few weeks ago it was even more like a battle over who is extorting where. They are standing, others are waiting to receive their share.

“Let me also make it clear that we had the cooperation of the navy, the army, the police and everyone involved in this; they have made efforts to tackle all the unhealthy tendencies. Many actions have been taken to them for this.

“I know the police have taken steps to reduce vices as well, but sometimes you have racing agents off duty and they show up in uniform with guns and destroy.

“At the NPA, we have dealt with security guards accused of unhealthy tendencies. We are doing a lot and will soon rid the ports of such defects, ”he said.

Bello-Koko also spoke of the agony of the Apapa traffic jam and said the deployment of infrastructure under the electronic call system for trucks has eliminated it by 80 percent.

“The fact that the traffic jam reduced the cents is verifiable. In addition to the deployment of the Eto platform, we are currently promoting multimodal transport systems through the use of barges for the movement of goods in and out of ports.

“From our observation, this development has significantly reduced congestion in most terminals, their efficiency.

“The low traffic jams in some areas of Apapa are due to the very poor condition of the Tin Can Port-Mile 2 corridor, which is under construction. When the road rehabilitation is complete, the little traffic you see now will be completely eliminated.

“Most of the road networks on the Tin Can, Cocoa Nut – Mile 2 axis are in various stages of reconstruction and the eto infrastructure has therefore not been deployed in this area,” he said.

Bello-Koko explained that as part of the efforts to deploy the electronic call system, around 27 to 29 truck transit parks have been developed in Lagos State with the collaboration of relevant stakeholders, including the Lagos State Government.

“Of that number, only about eight have fully deployed the eto infrastructure, which includes automated control systems and other IT equipment related to information technology.

“Apart from some of the challenges we listed earlier, which border on human interference, electronic calling has been able to streamline cargo evacuation and truck movements, the level of road health of To Dad.

“The disappearance of the Apapa traffic jam could be attributed in part to the new empty container policy which requires shipping companies to take at least 80% of their empty containers.

“We are monitoring this to make sure they take that number of containers before they leave,” he said.

Bello-Koko also spoke about other seaports in the east of the country and why importers were not using them to reduce pressure on those in Lagos.

“There are many other ports outside of Lagos like the ports of Calabar, Warri, Onne and Rivers, but the NPA cannot decide for the consignees (importers) where they will transport their cargo.

“We understand that around 70% of the cargo entering Nigeria goes through Lagos. There is a high concentration of industries in Lagos and Ogun.

“It is very likely that any importer of raw materials destined for these factories in Lagos or Ogun will actually bring them in through the ports of Lagos.

“But what we have done is offer pricing incentives at these port locations to encourage shipping lines and importers to use them.

“It started to work and we have seen a gradual increase in tonnage and we hope there will be a jump but we don’t see that jump yet,” he said.

Source: NAN

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