The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) are rallying around the stakeholders to find ways to ensure continuous compliance and accountability in Nigeria’s port industry.
Speaking at the 3rd compliance maritime sector roundtable on ‘Maritime Sector Reforms: Consolidating the Gains,’ Vivek Menon, associate director of MACN, said the commitment by maritime agencies to ensure compliance, transparency, and accountability led to the many sector reforms and gains in the Nigerian maritime industry.
He said the MACN Nigeria team has created the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Toolkit that is accessible online to help stakeholders identify procedures and requirements that apply during vessel and cargo clearance.
Menon said the founding of the Port Standard Task Team by the Presidency in collaboration with NSC, NPA, DSS, and ICPC, to improve transparency and accountability at the ports, has also helped to ensure compliance.
“The creation of the Anti-Corruption Help Desk provides round-the-clock support for vessel clearance at ports in Nigeria, which has reduced the instances of corruption, especially during vessel clearance,” he added.
According to Menon, compliance is the mechanism for the prevention of crime, the avenue for the reduction of the $7 billion losses the sector faces annually, and the opportunity for exponential growth within the industry, especially with the recent African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
On her part, Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) said the government’s capacity to establish policy on compliance systems and collaborate with the private sector and civil society to improve trade flows and the ease of doing business, are being strengthened.
Represented by Babatunde Sule, she said, there is a need to strengthen the compliance function within port agencies and sustain the gains built on in improving ethical and compliance standards, as well as the anti-corruption efforts in the maritime sector.
Moses Fadipe, national coordinator of the PSTT, said Nigerian maritime has made progress in promoting efficiency and transparency but there is a need to strengthen the regulatory framework through developing new regulations and reviewing existing ones.
He said there is also a need to increase enforcement through more investment in logistics, technology, and personnel. He added that operators can be more transparent by providing information about their operations.
Earlier, Soji Apampa, the CEO of the MACN, said since the introduction of SOP, there had been a significant reduction in demand for bribes at the land side of port operations and in the Lagos Ports, compared to the Eastern Ports.
He said a lot has also changed in terms of cargo clearance at the port, but that Nigeria is yet to get to where it ought to be which is why the roundtable focuses on how to consolidate the gains.
“Despite the PSTT operation clear the port corridor, we are still having challenges at the inward lane to the port due to issues around the state of access roads, infrastructural challenges, and mounting of illegal checkpoints along the port corridor at night and on the port bound lane of the access roads,” he explained.