The Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Tin Can Island Port Chapter, Mr. Jude Maduka, has denied allegations describing the TCIP as a drug haven.
He made the clarification amidst insinuations in some quarters that Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), Apapa, Lagos has become a haven for fraud and the importation of prohibited items including hard drugs such as heroine and cocaine.
Maduka contended that as one of the persons who does business in the port, he was in a position to speak on the truth state of affairs in the facility. He debunked the insinuations in some quarters that the port is a drug trafficking and gun running haven.
His words: “I do not agree with that notion that the TCIP is a restive facility. The seemingly frequent face-off among stakeholders in the port is not peculiar to the TCIP. As long as the ports system operates with various interests groups, there are bound to be conflicting interests. Remember that the aim of each group is to protect the interests of its members against isolation of their rights. These issues are industrial relations issues and they are handled as such.
“Conflict has been identified as integral part of human behaviour, and, as such, conflicting interests can be viewed as inescapable in a setting of this nature. However, the major concern here should be how the issues are resolved. That is why I said earlier that they are industrial relations issues.
“For instance, it is in the best interest of every freight forwarder that the access roads at the TCIP be reconstructed and, at least, be made motorable. This would have prevented the colossal losses suffered by consignees, freight forwarders and transporters when vehicles carrying successfully cleared consignments fall just outside the port’s gates due to the bad state of the roads,” he added.
He argued that the industrial action by the Joint Action Committee of Freight Forwarders (JACOFF) compelled the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to fix the roads, even as he pointed out that vehicles no longer fall just outside the port’s first gate as was the case in the past.
“So, I do not believe that ensuring that the right thing is done amounts to disincentive to trade facilitation; rather, the reverse should be the case. The essence of industrial relations is to ensure effective grievance handling, conflict resolution and restoration of industrial harmony, which is the only way that trade facilitation can be achieved. Therefore, whatever it takes to achieve it is the only way forward,” Maduka said.
On use of TCIP for the trafficking of drugs and gun running, he said: “Drug trafficking and gun running are issues that call for serious concern from individuals and government alike. That is why no government can afford to toy with them. And Nigeria is no exception.
“The various approved international entry and exit points in Nigeria, including airports, seaports, and land border posts, all have security personnel and agencies whose duties are to checkmate these illegal businesses, helping to nip them in the bud.
“It is true that in recent times, there have been seizures of illicit consignments such as hard drugs as well as arms and ammunition at the TCIP. This does not translate into the TCIP becoming so porous to the point of becoming drug barons’ and arms runners’ haven,” he added.
According to the freight forwarder, the seizure of hard drugs, arms and ammunitions among other illegal things in recent times reflects that TCIP is water-tight security-wise, and such illegal businesses cannot thrive there.
He lauded what he described as the “eagle-eyed officers and men” of the various government agencies in TCIP for doing their jobs well.