The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has attributed the burgeoning cargo congestion at the terminals across the nation’s seaports to the actions and inaction of the Nigeria Customs Service and other security agencies.
Lamenting the helplessness of the NPA to tame the rising monster, the Acting Managing Director of the agency, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said that there are at least 5,000 abandoned containers at the nation’s ports which have resulted in congestion at ports.
Koko makes this claim during an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Customs.
He further revealed that the extortionist activities of other security agencies such as the Police, which have resulted to the indiscriminate mounting of illegal checkpoints around the ports, is another challenge that has compounded the issue of congestion.
The NPA boss stated that the over 5,000 containers are currently stranded at various terminals including Onne, Calabar, Warri, among others, blocking business activities, blaming certain changes introduced by Customs and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which he said contributed to the existing challenges at the Ports.
“Let me mention here sir, currently there are over 5,000 containers across the ports that are overtime cargoes.
“A cargo is overtime after 90 days. Some of these containers are actually more than a year old, and when you leave these containers there, you are also occupying space that would have been used for containers imported into this country.
“For instance, APMT has 1,051, WACT has 660, Intels has 169, ECMT has 574; we will give you the breakdown of all of them.
“Now let me add sir, the containers are supposed to be evacuated to the Ikorodu terminal.
“Currently Ikorodu terminal has over 2,500 containers and the place is filled up.
“Nigeria Customs has not auctioned containers to the best of our knowledge in recent times.
“So there is even no space to take empty containers. We haven’t seen any container moved out of the Ikorodu terminal for auction, so there is a need for that to be done in order to free the ports of overtime cargoes.
“Some of them have been there for so many years.
“So that is a major problem, and if that can be handled, the terminals will be freer to receive more imports and there will be more space for that.”And then Ikorodu went empty that is, if Customs auction these containers, it will now have more space to move overtime cargoes to those locations.
“There were containers that were seized at the terminals that were containing explosives, the kind of explosives that created issues in the route, we heard that one of the remaining containers have been taken away about a week ago.
“So we have so many containers, there are jerry-cans of petrol at Ikorodu, I’ve written on that so that Nigeria
Customs will take action so that all those items are taken out while the other issue is about export containers and procedures.”According to him, there are over 20 checkpoints mounted by the police, and in some cases, area boys collect these monies on behalf of security agencies.
Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison
A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.
As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.
“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.
Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.
Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.
Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.
Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.
Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo
” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.
The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.
“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.
“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.
“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.
“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.
“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.
Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.
“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”
We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.
“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.
The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.
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