Regulators in the nation’s seaports, port users, as well as non-governmental organisations have called for what they called “increased awareness and enlightenment” on the use of the port service support portal (PSSP) in ensuring transparency and efficiency in the maritime sector of the economy.
They argued that the increased enlightenment and awareness on the PSSP and the use of the standard operating procedures (SOP) which was launched with fanfare by the Federal Government in 2016 would reduce if not totally eliminate some of the anomalies presently militating the cargo clearance process in the nation’s seaports.
These were the positions canvassed by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and others, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at a round table session on service delivery at Nigerian ports which took place recently in Lagos.
The round table session was organised by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) in collaboration with the Convention on Business Integrity Limited (CBI), and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
They averred that if all concern embraces the use of the portal and the SOP, there would be what they called a “quick and effective resolutions” of infractions arising from the sea ports operations and activities in Nigerian ports and terminals.
While coordinating the panellists at the round table which attracted several stakeholders in the maritime industry and beyond, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Integrity Organisation Limited, Mr. Soji Apampa maintained that if all port users use the portal, it would not only enhance the ease of doing business and increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) but also lead to an effective service delivery in the cargo chain.
Apampa noted that the deployment of the software was initiated as a one-stop-shop mechanism to resolve port operators’ complaints online, real time within 72 hours.
The Deputy Director, Head of Complaints Unit, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Moses Fadipe disclosed that since the portal was established in 2016, it has recorded only 400 cases. He attributed the fewer number of cases to the low awareness of the existence of the portal by Nigerians, especially port users.
“Prior to the establishment of PSSP, there were other platforms like WhatsApp, short message service (SMS) and e-mails that operators were using. It is on record, so many of them are still glued to those platforms in spite of the fact that the portal has been established. We receive about 30 e-mails per day on complaints which translates to 1000 per month and if PSSP is just recording about 400 since 2016 that means that the awareness is very low. People are often not ready to shift because they are more comfortable to the existing platforms. That is why we said that the awareness has to be popped up because it is from the PSSP that you can get the size of the industry infractions as a one-stop-shop, he said.”
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside said both the private and public players need more information and access to the existence of the portal. According to the NIMASA helmsman who was represented by Captain David Oboma, the agency as a regulator operates through the SOP because of the Act establishing it.
The Chairman of ICPC, Professor Bolaji Oluwasanya admitted that grievances by parties should be channeled through the portal and resolved at the ports, pointing out that such complaints can only be escalated to the commission when the agencies and operators involved were unable to resolve them. The ICPC Chairman who was represented by one of the Directors in the commission, Mr. Demola Bakare said the PSSP which was launched by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in 2016 across the country, was experiencing low patronage due to the dearth of publicity by agencies that are supposed to be involved in its propagation.