In a bid to end corruption, guarantee national safety and security for person, cargoes and properties in the nation’s ports, the federal government has launched the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and Port Service Support Portal (PSSP).
Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, said that harmonising operating procedures will ensure that the sector moves forward and generate the needed revenue for the government.
Amaechi, was represented by the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadizah Bala Usman.
He said the SOP and PSSP had been official launched by the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja.
Amaechi said that those port platforms would provide facilitates for seamless transit of cargo from ports the markets.
He said SOP and PSSP would support port infrastructure development for sustenance of sea borne trade as well as reducing cost of doing business in the port and reducing cost of goods in the markets for citizens.
Amaechi added that it was necessary to create a sufficient condition for the ports sector to efficiently support the economy to enable faithfully deliver of ports services in a friendly environment devoid of conflict of interest and corrupt practices.
According to him, “According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2015 review of maritime transport, the total volume of cargo carried by sea-borne trade in 2014 was $9.84 billion. The World Shipping Council 2016 report show that ships transport carry approximately 60 per cent of the value of global seaborne trade representing more than $4 trillion worth of goods annually. This is underscores the importance of the maritime sector to the global economy and Nigerian economy.”
He noted that the Maritime Anti-corruption Network (MACN) and UNPP had prior to 2013, noted that the pre-requisites for the effectiveness and efficiency in Nigeria were in short supply and recommended an intervention by government.
Amaechi said in 2013, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR), and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) carried out a Corrupt Risk Assessment (CRA) at the six ports in Nigeria such as Calabar, Warri, Tin Can, Apapa, Port Harcourt and Onne ports.
The minister said research aimed at strengthening preventive mechanisms by identifying areas that were prone to corruption in the ports while the report was launched in December 2013.
In her opening remarks the Bala Usman, said the initiative of grafting, adoption and harmonization of SOPs and PSSPs in Nigeria seeks to enhance transparency and accountability to ensure achieving a user friendly business environment.
She said SOP was mapped for each agency to establish operational standards and guide customers on what they need to do to receive good quality services.
The NPA boss said SOP and PSSP would miminise variation and promote quality through consistent implementation of processes or procedures within the organisation adding that the launching would encourage unwholesome practice by service provider at the port would reduce, if not completely eliminated.
She said it would become easier to detect culprits and defaulters and sanction them adding the on-going reforms to facilitate maritime traffic and trade have led to a reduction of the number of agencies in the ports.
“The federal government in its 2016 budget has prioritsed development of infrastructure for the transportation sector. The automation of ports operation by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has prepared the stage for 48-Hour cargo clearance. The update of ASYCUDA from (++) to 3.0 and other reforms will also attract foreign Direct investment to Nigeria thus making the country a Trade-Hub,” she said.
In his speech, the Stakeholder Manager of APM terminal, Mr Daniel Odibe, said all operators knows the important of SOP in port operations adding that his organization would support government to achieve desire result.
On his part, the Executive Director, Port Operators, ENL Consortium, Mr. Mark Waslh, said his company would work hard and see that the system function effectively and assist NPA by doing the right thing.
The General Manager, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited, Mr. Yakubu Abdullahi, said that the essence of SOP and PSSP was a port reform which would improve on cargo throughput.