The Federal Government has approved N180 million as operational funding for the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) to enforce compliance with the Standards Operating Procedures (SOP), at the nation’s seaports.
According to the directive from Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary, the federal ministry of transportation, the three-port agencies of the ministry – the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), were mandated to pay N60 million each to PSTT to redeem the fund.
Ewache Victor, deputy director of Maritime Services of the FMOT, disclosed this in Lagos on Wednesday at the third Compliance Roundtable on the theme, ‘Maritime Sector Reforms: Consolidating the Gains’.
He said that the directive was given at the second compliance roundtable where the Permanent Secretary ordered the port agencies to ensure the implementation of the SOPs up to at least 80 percent compliance.
Meanwhile, Babatunde Sule, the representative of the permanent secretary, at the third roundtable, said that incidences of corrupt demands as it “relates to vessel clearance have reduced”
She said that 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.
She said that despite the achievements recorded in implementing the SOP, there is a need to strengthen the compliance function within port agencies and sustain the gains and momentum built in improving ethical and compliance standards, as well as the anti-corruption efforts in the maritime sector.
“Achieving this will require the support and political will of institutional leaders and key decision-makers of government agencies that play key roles in the maritime sector operations,” she added.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of the NPA, who was represented by Chuma Ngini, said Nigeria has to use all instruments at its disposal to reduce corruption in at port industry and reverse the damage to Nigerian international reputation.
He said that the Federal Government’s pursuit to grow non-oil export can only be successful if Nigeria curtails corruption and ensure the ease of doing business.
Earlier, Soji Apampa, the CEO of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), said that since the introduction of SOP, there has 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 that 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 discussions focused 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 port bound lane of the access roads,” he explained.