As 2018 maritime year came to an end, sector stakeholders and operators have indicated that regulatory and operational environment worsened during the year gone by.
They highlighted the difficult operational environment leading to the loss of revenue and man-hours, occasioned by worse level of congestion at the ports in Lagos, leading to frustration by importers and exporters as well as their agents.
They blamed some of the government agencies for their contribution to making port services more cumbersome. National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike, speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report said,
“2018 has been a tiring year for all of us in our industry because so many things were not in order.
“Some government agencies multiplied themselves in so many forms trying to drive revenue apparently to meet targets federal government actually gave them. “So I am of the opinion that the Federal Government should not give target but should focus on trade facilitation.
It should be on the level of where government agents should not be compelled to do things in order to impress the Federal Government or to meet their target thereby putting so much pressure into the industry.
“So many other government agencies in this maritime year did some good jobs, like Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, which has been working a little bit better than before, Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC have been almost excellent, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA is improving every day. But the NPA needs to checkmate shipping companies and terminal operators.
“Every single ministry responsible for the regulation of their operations need to wake up by ensuring the regulation of their levies and other charges.
“Then Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, that people are still complaining about in terms of documentation and other part of their operations.
“Then another knock in the maritime industry this year is the Police that is having all the powers to go and block containers on the road after ports maritime police have done examination in the port, thus duplicating the work of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.”
President of the new faction of ANLCA, Emenike Nwokeoji, said a major problem faced by industry operators this year, especially in the Lagos area, is the traffic situation at the ports access roads and the vicinities.
Nwokeoji said that there is no regulation of the operations of truck drivers and as a result they have become lords unto themselves and have taken over the port access roads in Apapa.
He said the truckers now use the roads as their parking space and in some cases turn the roads their workshop for repair of the trucks.
For the Eastern ports, he said they are becoming busier as a result of the congestion in Lagos, adding, however, that this has brought some level of pressure to port operations there.