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Truck owners accuse NPA of usurping economic powers of Shippers’ council 

Bello-Koko, Ag. NPA MD
— threaten to go to court over extortions in ETO regime
Eyewitness reporter

Agitated members of Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA), who are basically maritime truck owners, have accused the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), of flagrant usurpation of the economic powers of Nigerian Shippers’Council (NSC) through the activities of NPA- licensed Truck Transit Park operators (TTP).

Their accusations followed what they described as mindless extortion of truck drivers and owners by the operators of the park under the E Call- up System at the ports.
The truck owners, who have served the NPA management of their intentions to contest this anomaly at the court through their Counsel, Ebun -Olu Adegboruwa, alleged that NPA has disobeyed the executive order of the federal government vesting economic regulation of the Nigerian Ports in the hands of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
“There is an existing Presidential Executive Order vesting economic regulation of the Nigerian Ports in the hands of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, thereby making economic activities of your office(NPA) illegal”
Meanwhile, the truck owners, in their notice of intention to commence a suit against NPA in pursuant to section 92 (1) of NPA act cap 126LFN, 2004 by the solicitor of COMTUA, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), said contrary to the intent and purpose of TTP which was meant to eradicate payment checkpoints, there has been a proliferation of illegal checkpoints along the terminal routes with attendant extortion of the sum of N5000 per checkpoints.
The agitated truckers, through their legal representative, Adegboruwa, said despite the mutual agreement of the sum of N10,000 payable for an entry permit into the terminal, TTP extorts a whooping sum of N31,250.

The Counsel to the truck owners said “Our client reliably informed us of certain developments and unfair activities in the maritime sector for which countless letters of complaint have been written but serially ignored by your office and other concerned offices such as the office of the Lagos State Government.

” Some of the disturbing facts which were reliably disclosed that there have been reported cases of discrepancies and misrepresentation of facts and figures emanating from the electronic call-up regime created by Truck Transit Park Ltd on the instruction and directives of your office, the Nigerian Port Authority.

“Our client is vehemently disputing the cost and value of the services being rendered by ETO/TTP as there have been cases of extortions and breach of agreement on the part of your office.

” That it was mutually agreed that the sum of N10,000 was payable for booking process as entry permit into the terminal but TTP now extorts a whooping sum of N31,250.

“Contrary to the intent and purpose of TTP which was meant to eradicate payment checkpoints, there has been a proliferation of illegal checkpoints along the terminal routes with attendant extortion of the sum of N5000  per checkpoints.

“That despite assurances to the contrary, members of our client now pay outrageous sums ranging from N50,000  to N150,000 to return empty containers at the authorized holding bay.

“That there have been cases of connivance and abuse of office by the holding bay operators and some agencies of the Government who would arrest and impound our client’s members’ trucks so as to illegally extort money from them and the continuous harassment and extortion of our client often lead to further arrests and detention of our client’s members by clearing agents on container demurrage.”

“That the initial arrangements that trucks would move from the satellite parks to the pre-gate and then into the terminal within the period of two days have not been realized as trucks take more than weeks to move into the terminal from the satellite parks.

“The initial arrangement to install Close-Circuit Television (CCTV) to monitor the movement of trucks into the terminal to ensure speedy movement of vehicles and other purposes has not been affected by TTP.”

“There has been a consistent violation of movement procedures and illegal parking of trucks on the express road by some preferred truck drivers of which modus operandi are antithetical to the aim and purpose of the Electronic Call Up Regime.

“That the effort and intervention of the Honourable Minister of Transportation in setting up of the Ministerial Steering and Implementation Committee to proffer solutions associated with the ease of doing business at the Apapa/Tincan Island Port has been defeated with attendant cases of greed, extortions, harassment of truck drivers, robberies and total collapse of the accessible road networks.”

“On the other hand, the involvement and activities of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and the Lagos State Committee on Abandoned and Disused Vehicles headed by the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Transport, Mr. Toyin Fayinka is regrettably inimical to the legitimate activities of the truck drivers.”

However, the NPA authority is yet to make an official reaction to the legal threat by the truck owners.
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Headlines

IMO tasks Mobereola to sustain NIMASA’s leadership role in regional maritime industry

—– hails his appointment as DG
The Eyewitness Reporter
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has lauded the leadership role of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the maritime industry within the West African sub-region which it said has stabilized maritime administration in the region.
In his congratulatory letter to Dr. Dayo Mobereola, the new NIMASA DG, the Secretary General of IMO Arsenio Dominguez, observed with satisfaction the collaborative efforts of NIMASA that have brought relative peace to the troubled Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
He therefore charged Mobereola to sustain the tempo of activities that will keep the momentum going in the areas of safety, security and building of strong maritime institutions.
In a conveyance letter personally signed by him, the IMO Secretary-General recognized the strides of the Agency in building a robust maritime sector in Nigeria, adding that the IMO commends the significant effort, initiatives, and investment that Nigeria has made in strengthening its maritime institutions.

In the words of Dominguez, “The focus on strengthening maritime law enforcement and security architecture has been welcomed by seafarers and flag States.

“The Deep Blue project and the C4i Centre as well as maritime piracy laws under the SPOMO Act are just some of the many investments that have set a new gold standard in the region in maritime security capacity building”.

“IMO has long supported the regional role of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and its Member States in strengthening maritime security and law enforcement.

” In this respect, we have been greatly encouraged with the continuation of this regional ownership with the formation and work of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction (GoG-MCF/SHADE) in 2021”.

He commended the Agency’s partnership with the various regional bodies and expressed the readiness of the IMO to work with Nigeria and other member states on many maritime issues with the aim of jointly tackling these issues.

“NIMASA’s partnership with the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) and the collaboration with the shipping industry, navies and the Yaoundé architecture has been instrumental in suppressing the threat of piracy to merchant vessels and seafarers in line with UN Security Council resolution 2634 (2022) on piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea and IMO Assembly resolution A.1159 (32)”.

” I look forward to working with you and your colleagues on many of the maritime issues that we are jointly tackling and hope to welcome you in person at the IMO, he said.

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Headlines

Eastern shippers, freight forwarders on collision course with Shippers’ Council over increase in haulage rate

Akutah Pius Ukeyima, ES, NSC
The Eyewitness Reporter
Importers, Exporters and freight forwarders playing their trade in the South East region of the country have rejected the recent 200 percent hike in haulage rate by the Nigerian Shippers’Council.
They described the increase as “outrageous, arbitrary, and unacceptable.”
In a press conference called by the aggrieved shippers in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, they claimed that if the hike was not reversed, it would bring them on a collision course with the Shippers’ Council.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the aggrieved group, Joshua Ahuama, Zonal Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licenced Agents (ANLCA), claimed that the rate will not only lead to spiral inflation but also in contravention of the provisions of the NSC Act.
He disclosed that the group shall give the Shippers’Council a seven-day ultimatum to reverse to status quo or face withdrawal of their services at the Eastern ports.
He accused the council of not consulting concerned stakeholders before arriving at the decision, saying consultations are an integral part of the NSC Act.
 “Recently, the NSC approved a 200 percent increment in haulage rate for transport owners and drivers operating under the Maritime Union of Nigeria.
“To this end, importers and freight forwarders associations in the eastern zone have unanimously disputed the new rate because it is outrageous, arbitrary, and unacceptable to all stakeholders in the zone.
“We have, however, resolved to adopt all peaceful efforts. We started this move on March 14 by calling on the NSC to ensure proper stakeholder engagement and renegotiation.

” These measures are also expected to help all parties to reach a benchmark that would be in the interest of all stakeholders in the maritime value chain,” Ahuama noted.

 “We also urge the NSC to return to the status quo by suspending the implementation of the disputed rate, pending proper renegotiation covering the interest of all stakeholders.

“We are not on a selfish course. Our demands are in the interest of Nigerians because any slight increase in the haulage rate will reflect on the prices of goods in the open market.

“A businessman incorporates total logistic costs into the prices of goods.”

However, the group said they might be constrained to take drastic measures, including suspending all declarations of goods and payments of customs duties, which could negatively affect national revenue and economic output.

Some members of the import and export associations present at the meeting included the Nigeria Shippers Association, the Aba International Traders Association, the Ultimate Importers Association, the POP Importers Association, the Nnewi Importers Association, and the Onitsha Importers Association.

However, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has said that the new approved rate took into consideration the cost, moderation and other cargo transport issues.
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Customs

Performance of Apapa Customs scanning officers excites Comptroller Jaiyeoba

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Area Controller of Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba has lauded the uncompromising attitude of the officers of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology Unit (NIITU) which he said has been invaluable to the overall success of the command.
Comptroller Jaiyeoba, who was on an unscheduled visit to the scanner site, reminded the officers of the importance of teamwork as a strong basis to sustain the gains of compliance and revenue collection recently recorded by the command.
He thanked Deputy Comptroller Salamatu Atuluku, the Officer in charge of the scanning site and encouraged the unit not to be deterred by complaints coming from persons who were made to pay accurate duties to the government after issuance of demand notices
According to him, no business person who is made to part with money will be happy with officers who refused to compromise the ethics of their job
” The main reason for me coming here is to appreciate you. I may not see you but I have seen your work and I won’t keep quiet about what I have seen about your work.
“You are doing very well. I just want to encourage you to work as a team. If you don’t work as a team, you give room for outsiders to come in and when they come in, they divide you and when they divide you,  achieving success will be very difficult
” Do your work without blemish. Once you keep your arm straight, you can stand before anybody. Your work as a customs officer is to ensure that you do the correct thing
” For those of you doing an intervention in the form of Demand Notice(DN), there is no body who part with money that will be happy with you.
“They will want to play intelligent by hiding somewhere. When you fetch them from their hiding place, they become your enemy. Whatever they write about anybody here will still come down to me and if anybody works well, the onus on me is to defend such a person.
“Just have it at the back of your mind that you owe yourself the duty of doing your work diligently whether anyone comes around as a friend or enemy.
“It is not enough for you to rest. The reward for hard work is more work. These demands require sacrifice so that you can maintain the status” he said.
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