Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML), Tin Can Island Port, Lagos, has been accused by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) of frustrating the Ease of Doing Business policy of the Federal Government by refusing freight forwarders entry into the port.
Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam accused PTML when the new executives of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) led by its President, Mr. Anya Njoku, paid him a courtesy visit last weekend.
The NAGAFF founder alleged that PTML has completely refused to honor the order of the Minister of the Federal Republic in terms of access into the port, and they are insisting that before any port user can gain access into the terminal, it must be based on their (PTML) access card.
He said that this is not the case at other port terminals in the country and argued that access into the port as spelt out in the ministerial order issued by Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) states clearly that access into the port must be by authority of NPA
It would be recalled that at a recent meeting between clearing agents and management of Grimaldi Shipping, owners of PTML Terminal, the company’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Nitin Senan, stated that most of the persons seeking access into the terminal do not have businesses to transact at the port.
He urged that most of them are ‘ghost agents’ who do not have clearing licenses.
Aniebonam argued that what PTML is doing is in total breech of the ministerial order. “Access into the port for a freight forwarder is based on the identity card issued by the CRFFN to its members and certified by the NPA as the custodian of the port, but PTML is not compliant, I am so sad that that they doing it with impunity”
“We are not in a Banana Republic, how can the federal government make an order and a private regulator is refusing that order, I dare ask the MD of NPA to take responsibility and see that this matter is resolved” he said
He also alleged that terminal operators in the port were violating Section 31 of the Customs law which says that any cargo that comes into Nigerian ports has 28 days, wherein the cargo is not cleared, an uncleared cargo list should be prepared by the terminal operators and given to the customs for approval so that such containers would be moved out of the port and give room for other cargoes.
He noted that “This matter was discussed during the meeting on the Ease of Doing Business under the watch of MD of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman and customs CGC, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) but as I speak with you, it is not being implemented and Nigerians are being ripped off in contravention of the law”
Aniebonam charged the visiting MARAN executives on the need for it’s members to continue reporting the maritime industry until it is improved upon, according to him, the Nigerian port system is in a collapsed state.
“One of the major problems in our port system today is the inability of the press to speak the truth. You much be ready to face challenges because you cannot do well if you are not challenged, MARAN cannot be separated from the society”
On his part, MARAN President, Anya Njoku assured that MARAN is undergoing re-branding under the new executives and that it would no longer be business as usual.
He informed the NAGAFF founder that MARAN is now registered under law as a legal entity, saying that, it has been given additional powers than the one it formerly has under section 22 of the Nigerian constitution, he said MARAN can now sue and be sued.
Njoku assured that private entities and public office holders in the maritime sector shall now be held responsible by way of what they do as it affects public interest.
“MARAN and NAGAFF have enjoyed a good relationship and why we are here today is to further strengthen that cordiality which has existed over time, we want to partner with you like we did in the past and continue to do so throughout the tenure of this administration”
“In this executive and I as the president, it is not going to be business as usual, others may have done their own thing in the past but henceforth, it is not going to be business as usual, the maritime press is going to be strengthened at this time. We are not going to be afraid to hold public officers accountable” Njoku said.