BusinessDay

Corruption at Nigerian ports drops by 60.2% in two years – MACN

The demand for bribes, un-receipted payments, and other corrupt practices on the marine side of vessel clearance at Nigerian port has dropped by 60.2 percent in two years, 2019 to 2021, the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), have said.

According to MACN, there were about 266 incidents of demand for un-receipted payments in 2019, which dropped by 51.9 percent to 128 incidents in 2020.

This however dropped further by 60.2 percent to 51 incidents in 2021.

Olusoji Apampa, the chief executive officer of the Convention on Business Integrity, told newsmen in Lagos recently that Nigeria is beginning to build integrity, even though, the country has not managed to fully fight corruption.

Apampa said the group will in the first quarter of the year 2022, train government officials who board vessels for inspection in order to strengthen the implementation of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM) being spearheaded by the Nigerian Shippers Council.

The training, according to him, would involve all government agency officials who board vessels and the standing task team which comprises of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as well as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who ensures proper implementation of NPPM.

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“We want to re-examine the digitisation of the port especially the quest for Single Window in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. We want to have a major stakeholders’ forum on the 27th of January, 2022. We also want to train all agencies that board vessels in the sub-region. This will enable them to understand international best practices on how to relate with ships, consignees, and freight forwarders in the clearing of cargo,” Apampa explained.

He said Nigeria’s achievement in the last three years has caught international attention such that Egypt, Ukraine, and India are now beginning to replicate aspects of what Nigeria is doing.

Apampa said the group has created some tool kits that will make it easier for port users to transact business, and also give the importer or an exporter all the requirements to do business.

In addition to the standing task team apprehending defaulters of the rule of engagement, he said, the group created a help desk on the side of the vessel clearance.

On his part, Vivek Menon, associate director, Industry Engagement and Global Operations of MACN, confirmed that there has been an incremental change in trying to do ethical business in Nigeria’s shipping sector.

According to him, the network started with addressing the integrity challenges in the port and terminal business in Nigeria using a whole reform movement.

“We are trying to fine-tune and focus on areas that are challenged in ports and terminals in Nigeria by looking at the whole spectrum of shipping and supply value chain. We identified some challenges faced by all the vessels calling Nigerian ports especially when they are cleared, and now, we are trying to see how much can be replicated on the cargo side. Based on that, we developed some integrity plans in ports and terminals that are not just in the level of policies but also in the level of operations. We have also identified how ships can make use of those integrity plans on ground when they are affected by those challenges,” Menon explained.

Menon, who disclosed that the network has been trying to work on the above-listed issues for almost eight to nine years, said that MACN that started in 2012, has in addition to reform, being able to give users of ports and terminals in Nigeria, the opportunity to not just succumb to such improper demands, but to challenge, report and seek remedies when these improper demands are made.

“For us, it is a step forward in doing ethical business in Nigeria, though small, but in the right direction in doing ethical business in a country like Nigeria that is a high-risk area in terms of unethical behavior,” he added.

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