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Incredible! 26 illegal checkpoints exist between Apapa port and Ijora — PSTT

From L-R, Dr Tijani, Emmanuel Jimi and Eniola William
Eyewitness reporter
The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) has raised the alarm over the level of corruption going on along the port access roads which has played a major role in the malignant traffic gridlock along that corridor.
Moses Fadipe, the Coordinator of the Team, disclosed that there are no fewer than 26 illegal checkpoints between the Apapa port corridor and Sifax bonded terminal, Ijora, a distance of less than two kilometres.
Mr Fadipe was speaking Thursday at the flag-off of “Operation  Free The Port Corridor” which is an exercise meant to clear the port access roads of impediments to the free flow of vehicles along the corridors.
The Task Team is an offshoot of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) which was launched in 2021 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to improve the ranking of Nigeria on the global corruption index.
The Team, which started with the Joint boarding of vessels to improve the turnaround time of vessels, has also been to the terminals to ensure that terminal operators and other players in the cargo clearance chains play the game according to the rules to ensure timely release of cargo from the terminals with minimal delay.
The third leg of the campaign was the operation free port corridor that is meant to complement and consolidate the successes achieved in the two previous phases.
At the Thursday flag-off ceremony, the Federal Ministry of Transportation applauded the Task Team for reducing the vessel turnaround time at the seaports from five hours to 90 minutes.
Speaking at the flag-off of the Operation Free the Port Corridor, by the Port Standing Task Team, a committee under the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation,Dr Madgalene Ajani, who represented Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, lauded the efforts, saying the time used in resolving importers complaints have also reduced from 10 days to four hours.

According to her, the reduction in berthing and complaint time has helped in boosting the ease of doing business, as well as efficiency in the seaport.

Dr Ajani, who flagged off the exercise, however, said in order to free the port corridor, it must be done holistically and with the support of other agencies.

“To free the port corridor, the key thing is that we have to do things holistically and that treatment is what we are trying to achieve.

 The aim of this holistic achievement is for us to achieve ease of doing business in Nigerian ports and the corridors.

“So, it takes all of us here to agree that we can do this and to be able to achieve this, we need to have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), that we need to follow.

“The SOP is not conscripting everybody to follow one person’s SOP, It puts into cognisance, the SOP of all operating agencies in the port and that is why we are talking about the NPPM.
” The NPPM will put everybody’s SOP into focus and we come together as a team to achieve results.”

She also commended the presidential standing committee on what has been achieved in the last one year.

She said the feat could not have been achieved by the activities of only just one person, but everyone.

 “December 2020, we stormed Apapa and we could not even navigate.
“We came by water from Marina and even to drive out from Apapa Port to Tin-Can to see what is going on was very difficult.
” And after that, we constituted a project development implementation team and everybody was working to see that goods for Christmas go to the user and January, February 2021, the whole thing clamped down.
“And the question is will we ever be able to clear Apapa corridor and I can boldly say that we are moving forward.

“I am recounting this so that we know that we have achieved something because there is a tendency to say how much we have achieved, but the issue is can we sustain this?

“This problem is as long as 14 years. The key thing is that we have to do things holistically and that treatment is what we are trying to achieve.
” The aim of this holistic achievement is for us to achieve ease of doing business in Nigeria ports and the corridors”

Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council,  Emmanuel Jime, said the task team was set up for the purpose of removing illegal checkpoints and shanties along the Ports’ Corridors.

He, however, applauded the support and level of buy-in obtained from the stakeholders, especially the public and private sectors.

” It just goes to demonstrate how all of us are eager to rid the Ports’ Corridors of the anomalies we witness daily.

“I am particularly excited because of the level of buy-in obtained from the stakeholders coming from both the public and private sectors.

” It just goes to demonstrate how all of us are eager to rid the Ports’ Corridors of the anomalies we witness daily.

“I congratulate you on having succeeded in forming this group as an enlarged task team for the purpose of removing illegal checkpoints and shanties along the Ports’ Corridors.

“It is a great honour for me to deliver this address of welcome. It is especially gratifying because of the spread of representation we have in the gathering from different bodies that we consider as key partners in the pursuit of what we set out to achieve.”

“This exercise, which is about to be flagged-off tagged “Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors” is fittingly named.

” Indeed, the Ports’ Corridors are not free; the traffic does not have a free flow, the shanties are not freeing spaces for a conducive business environment, and the unnecessary checkpoints obviously do not make for an atmosphere free of extortion and other forms of corrupt practices.”

“This exercise is going to be the third in the series of activities of the task team since its inception in March 2021.

“The team began its monitoring and enforcement mandate at the Joint Boarding of vessels operations where they ensured adherence to the provisions of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM).”

“Following the success of the first phase, the team moved to the Terminals in its second phase of activities to ensure a new culture of Joint Cargo Examination in compliance with the NPPM to foster global best practices.

“Today marks the implementation of the third phase as we embark on sanitizing the Ports’ Corridors,”
Jimi promised to support the team to achieve its mandate and called on other stakeholders to support the tea.
According to Fadipe, the Team on the Operation Free The Port Corridor is an enlarged one comprising 180 personnel drawn from various agencies and security organisations.
The event was attended by the representatives of Customs, Police, NPA, Lagos States, ICPC, SSS, truck owners, maritime labour, Apapa Local Government Chaiman, and other stakeholders in the maritime industry.
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Headlines

From Pulpit to Grave: How Prince Abiodun Soyele, Editor-In-Chief of Nigeria Maritime 360, dies after church service.

The Eyewitness Reporter
It was a dramatic transition to glory for Prince Simon Abiodun Soyele, the Editor – in – Chief of the defunct Nigeria Maritime 360 magazine and online newspaper,  who finished an inspiring sermon on Sunday, May 19th, 2024, returned home and was transited to eternal life.
He was said to have returned from church that Sunday, after giving a sermon on the topic: Holy Spirit at Christ Apostolic Church, CAC, Agbara Olorun Ni Gbani at Egbeda and complained of mild chest pain before he was rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed dead.
The 68 old year old Owu Prince, hailed from Otileta Soyele royal family in Owu, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He was one of the candidates who contested for the Owu stool in 2023 but lost the exalted seat to the present occupier.
Prince Soyele was also the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Perceival Security and Safety Agencies Limited, a group of companies with head office in Abule Egba area of Lagos
Perceival Agencies Ltd was the publisher of the now-rested Nigeria Maritime 360 online newspaper.
While giving the sermon on Sunday on the topic: Holy Spirit, the deceased, who stood for about 30 minutes while delivering his divine massage, was said to have admonished members to be filled with the Holy Spirit because it is through the Holy Spirit that people could have an encounter with God and be blessed.
One of the members under his sermon on Sunday, who was devastated by the news Owu Prince disclosed that the late preacher, who looked hail and hearty during the Sunday service, told the congregation that the Holy Spirit gives power even as he was intermittently leading them in prayers of protection against death.
As at the time of writing this report, friends, family and sympathizers, who were still shell-shocked by the sudden demise of Prince Soyele, were still trooping into his Shasha home, where a condolence register had since been opened, to pay their last respect.
He was survived by his wife, four children and grandchildren.
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Customs

Adewale Adeniyi: Crusader for trade liberalisation, modern customs operations 

Funso Olojo 
Adewale Adeniyi, the 14th indigenous Comptroller-General of Customs and 31st since the establishment of Customs in 1891, is vigorously but steadily prosecuting a new order in the agency.
A new order in customs operations and administration, aided by the revolutionary Customs Act of 2023 and engendered through far-reaching reforms that are unprecedented in the service.
A reformation agenda that is meant to berth modern customs administration in the country.
No sooner was he appointed as Acting CGC by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in June 2023 than he hit the ground running to change the face of the Customs.
As if he was impatient to transform the operations of the agency and lend it to the aspirations of the trading public, Adeniyi triggered a flurry of activities that made the operations of customs buzzing with pulsating intensity.
Pronto, he announced the disbandment of the notorious CGC strike force used by the previous customs administrations to terrorise importers and their agents and which encumbered the clearing process.
He also went on to streamline the multiplicity of customs checkpoints hitherto used as points for extortions.
All these measures are meant to remove the encumbrances in the process of goods clearance and delivery system to facilitate trade.
The confirmation of his appointment as the substantive Customs boss in October 2023 only helped to galvanise him more to carry out his crusade for modern customs operations with higher velocity.
Eager to align Nigeria Customs with modern tools for customs operations and administration as enunciated by the World Customs Organization(WCO), Adeniyi activated the use of twin modern tools for trade facilitation which are Authorized Economic  Operator(AEO) and Advance Ruling concepts.
An Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is a designation that is granted by customs authorities to economic operators established in the customs territory of the European Union, who are part of the international supply chain, involved in customs-related operations and who have met certain standards of security and compliance.
AEO status is granted by customs authorities once the economic operator meets certain prescribed requirements and criteria.
AEOs are considered, from a customs procedures perspective, to be low-risk and are granted benefits such as expedited clearance, reduced inspections, and easier access to simplified customs procedures.
The AEO programme is designed to enhance international supply chain security and facilitate legitimate trade.
Similarly, Advance Ruling is a concept wherein the Customs Administration provides a written decision upon request from the importer concerning valuation, tariff classification, or origin of goods before they are imported.
Advance Ruling has been proven as a valuable tool for trade facilitation, benefiting both Customs administration and traders.
It enhances predictability and certainty in Customs treatment for goods.
This procedure also promotes cooperation and confidence between Customs and traders, following the guidelines set out by the World Customs Organisation Safe Framework of Standards.
 WCO has over the years encouraged its member- nations to take advantage of these tools for facilitating modern and legitimate trade.
However previous customs administrations in Nigeria had consistently ignored the WCO advice, thus making goods clearance and delivery system cumbersome.
But desirous of changing the narrative in customs operations and administration, the NCS, at the prompting of CGC Adeniyi, gave vent to these modernisation tools which he hoped to deploy for enhanced performance.
So, in one fell swoop, the customs launched the use of AEO and Advance Ruling concepts in the first quarter of 2024, asking the trading public to take advantage of these modern tools for trade facilitation.
As a follow-up to this, the Customs management established a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the implementation of Advance Ruling.
The decision was reached during the 6th Management Meeting of the NCS held on August 23, 2023.
The basis for this SOP lies in Section 24 sub-sections 1-9 of the new NCS Act, 2023, and Article 3 of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
Similarly and during the same period, the Service launched a Time Release Study (TRS) to enhance the quick release of goods by determining the time actual time goods leave customs control.
The World Customs Organisation’s Time Release Study is a strategic and internationally recognised tool to measure the actual time required for the release and /or clearance of goods from the time of arrival until the physical release of cargo with a view to finding bottlenecks in the trade flow process and taking necessary measures to improve.
Not done in his passionate efforts to enthrone efficiency in customs operations, Adeniyi said the service is committed to implementing the Lagos Continental Document produced through intensive stakeholders’ engagement and participation at the December CGC conference.
According to him, such measures as the resolution of multiple alerts, deduction of Customs’ multiple checkpoints and improvement of officers conduct are vigorously being pursued.
“The Lagos Continental Declaration document was a product of exhaustive consultations with stakeholders during.
” This document is presently undergoing implementation.
“Initial measures, including the resolution of multiple alerts, reduction of customs checkpoints, and improvement of officer conduct, have been actively undertaken.
” Additional components of the declaration will be pursued with thoroughness, and we anticipate completing due diligence by the end of the first quarter of this year”
All these measures are meant to give the trading public an efficient service delivery rooted in the use of modern tools for customs operations.
Added to these initiatives is the establishment of Customs laboratory.
”All these activities, centred on stakeholders,as previously committed, will soon be fully operational, illustrating our dedication concrete action” the CGC said.
He however gave a caveat that only compliant traders will enjoy enhanced Customs operations as his administration will not compromise strict adherence to Customs guidelines and regulations.
The icing on the cake of the CGC’s efforts to enthrone modern, efficient and customer-sensitive customs was his recent trip to China.
The China trip was strategic to his crusade for modernisation of customs operations and administration as it coincided with the 6th WCO Global AEO Conference, held between Wednesday, 8 to 10 May 2024.
The CGC leveraged his attendance to sell modernisation programme of NCS to the international world.
He also used the platform to integrate Nigeria’s fledging AEO programme into mainstream international practice.
Adeniyi also told his international audience the determination of his administration to nurture AEO programme from its present infancy stage in Nigeria to the full-fledged maturity stage that will be deployed to facilitate and expand the frontier of trade in the country.
While in China, Adeniyi led his management team to the Headquarters of Huawei, a famous information and communications technology company in Shenzhen, China, where he discussed opportunities embedded in the Nigeria Customs Service Trade Modernisation Project.
His discussion with the IT giant centered around his passion to modernise customs operations and administration.
 
Similarly, in China, NCS, led by Adeniyi, signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) to foster bilateral relationship for the enhancement of economic growth.
This MoU was instructive given the volume of trade between Nigeria and China. From statistics, Nigeria is a net importer of Chinese goods and services.
Therefore, the Customs MoU with China will not only strengthen bilateral trade agreement between the two countries, but it will also help Nigeria’s business community which has China as its business hub.
The MoU will also probably stem the tide of some of the fake products imported from China by unscrupulous Nigerian importers.
So far, Adeniyi has shown an uncommon passion for leading modern, automated and digitalized customs that is committed to the facilitation of trade and removing any identifiable encumbrances in the goods clearance and delivery system.
His commitment to enhancing trade facilitation through the deployment of modern customs tools is rooted in his belief, and rightly so, that trade facilitation will enhance revenue collection as espoused by the WCO.
Little wonder that during his less than a year of stewardship, the revenue performance of the customs has grown exponentially.
In the first quarter of 2024, the service recorded over N1.3 trillion in revenue,  representing an increase of 122.35% compared to the figure for last year.
During this period, the service witnessed astronomical growth in revenue collection with a significant increase in January 2024 with N390.824 billion earned, marking a 95.6% rise from January 2023’s N199.81 billion.
The revenue growth rates for February and March 2024 stood at 138.68% and 132.76% respectively when compared to the same months in 2023.
This also explains why the CGC was confident that the service would be able to meet the 2024 revenue target of 5 trillion with his highly motivated and determined team of men and officers of the service.
The 2024 target was higher than 2023 figures of N3.67 trillion from which the service collected N3.21 trillion.
However, to whom much is expected, much is given.
This reversed axiom signposts the officers’ welfare programme under CGC.
To enhance their performance, deserving men and officers have been rewarded with promotions and appointments to higher ranks, the quantum and rapidity of which was described as unprecedented in the history of the Service.
When Adeniyi assumed duties in 2023, he promised officers that they would be given their dues.
As promised, there were promotion exams in September 2023, two months after he was made an Acting CGC and a month before his appointment was confirmed.
The results for the September promotion exams came out in December, the same year, very unprecedented and a cleared departure from the previous practice of delayed promotions.
Twice in 2024, deserving officers have been given their deserved promotions and appointments.
The first one was in the first quarter of 2024 while the second one this year was the one announced this month, May 2024 where 13 officers in the management cadre were appointed to their next ranks.
In the latest appointment, the customs board confirmed the appointment of five Deputy Comptrollers- General and eight Assistant Comptrollers General of Customs, all of whom have since been decorated.
This was part of the motivational tools adopted by the CGC to galvanise his men and officers to key into his vision of modern Nigeria Customs Service.
With his transformational efforts, Adeniyi is set to bequeath a long-lasting legacy of efficient, modern and automated Nigeria Customs Service on the country and which effects will reverberate till the next generation
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Headlines

NIMASA may reassess deployment of N50b floating dock, as stakeholders flay delayed process.

Funso Olojo 
The continued delay of deployment of the multi-billion dollar floating dock of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) has continued to create ripples among concerned stakeholders who flayed the shoddy manner the industry’s regulatory agency has handled the prized asset.
The floating dock, acquired by NIMASA in 2018 at the whooping cost of N50 billion, has suffered serial misfortunes as it has since then remained idle, gulping taxpayers’ money in the process.
Previous efforts to relocate it to a permanent place for eventual deployment have been futile until the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) came to the rescue last year when it leased its disused Continental shipyard to berth the floating dock.
As a result of this breakthrough, NIMASA, under the leadership of its former, Dr Bashir Jamoh, engaged  Melsmore Marine Nigeria Limited, as a technical partner, for the deployment of the floating dock.
On February 13 th 2024, NIMASA raised the hope of stakeholders when Dr. Jamoh, the erstwhile DG, announced the movement of the dock to a jetty at the Standard Flour Mills in Apapa in preparation for its deployment to the scheduled operational base at the Continental Shipyard, Apapa.
The heavy 50-ton cylindrical spuds, which are for anchoring the dock, he had said, are being prepared for installation.
According to  Bashir Jamoh, “We are moving slowly but steadily to our destination.
“Today, we are lifting out the cylindrical studs to be prepared for piling at the Continental Shipyard where the Floating Dock is scheduled to commence operations.
“These spuds have to be firmly installed before we can tow the Floating Dock there.
“We assure stakeholders that very soon, Nigeria will save foreign earnings with the commencement of operations of our Dock.”
That was three months ago and nothing seemed to have happened since then.
The apparent silence from NIMASA over the fate of the floating dock three months after it docked at  Standard Flour Mill jetty, preparatory to its final movement to Continental shipyard, has fuelled concerns and cynicism among stakeholders.
Commentators are now asking where is the floating dock.
They expressed worry over what they claimed was a lack of transparency and accountability over the unending deployment process.
Otunba Sola Adewumi, President of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), has called for accountability and transparency within NIMASA.
Dr. Chris Ebare, Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), emphasized the need for specialized expertise in overseeing projects like the Modular Floating Dock.
He suggested a reevaluation of NIMASA’s approach, advocating for dedicated professionals to manage the asset independently of the agency’s leadership.
Former National President of the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers & Water Transport Senior Staff Association, Engr. Matthew Alalade, expressed concerns about NIMASA’s decision-making process, urging greater consultation with stakeholders and consideration of concessioning the dock to established shipyards.
As a result of the criticism and cynicism among stakeholders, insider sources whispered to our reporter that the incumbent DG, Dr Dayo Mobereola, has been briefed about the controversy surrounding the deployment of the floating dock.
It was further gathered that the new helmsman might conduct a surgical review of the deployment process by engaging experts who will manage the giant floating dock after its eventual movement to the NPA’s Continental shipyard.
The planned review, sources continued, may not be unconnected with experts advice that NIMASA lacks the requisite expertise to manage the asset.
Presently, Melsmore Marine Nigeria Limited is the technical partner in charge of the movement of the floating dock to its final place at NPA’s Continental shipyard.
That is where their contract ends.
The Managing Director of Melsmore, Danny Fuchs, said his company is prepared to move the facility for deployment.
 “Our job is to move the modular floating dock from the present location to the waterfront of the Dolphine Jetty at Apapa.
“The Sea Lion, which occupied the leased area at the waterfront has vacated the jetty. We have a commercial understanding with NIMASA on how to execute this project,” he said.
Fuch said his company has submitted a feasibility study, taking note of the mooring system required to anchor the floating dock at the Dolphine Jetty.

“The mooring system supplied by the manufacturers of the modular floating dock is made up of two steel piles of 36 meters in length, 2 meters in diameter, and a weight of roughly 48 tonnes each.

“These massive piles need to be driven about 20 meters into the seabed.

“We will bring our expertise to bear in carrying out this project. We also hope to invite the manufacturers, Damen Shipyard to join forces in achieving this relocation project.

“We will work with Damen Shipyard to ensure the modular floating dock is seaworthy before the relocation. This is to commission the modular floating dock before relocation,” Fuch had declared.

Stakekeholders queried what has happened after the funfare which greeted the announcement of relocation.
Is Melsmore still in the process of relocation, three months after it commenced or the relocation have been completed and we are in another round of waiting before the floating dock is put to use”, an agitated operator quried.
The silence from NIMASA to address  these concerns do not also help matter , thus giving rise a resurgence of cynicism  among the doubting stakeholders.
It was the operational aspect of the floating dock after its movement to its resting place that worries stakeholders who believed  NIMASA couldn’t operate the prized asset.
“The challenges we face with the floating dock can largely be attributed to the previous leadership’s reluctance to heed expert advice, which unfortunately has resulted in the asset becoming nearly outdated before being fully operational.” the source declared
“Dr. Mobereola has been thoroughly briefed about the current status and complexities surrounding the floating dock.
“He will be actively engaging with technical experts and stakeholders to expedite its deployment and ensure it operates at full capacity as swiftly as possible,” the source, who crave for anonymity, declared.
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