Stakeholders at the Nigeria Seaport have come out to say it’s high time the Eastern Ports embrace transformation as that of its Western Ports counterpart.
This concern was raised during a two-day training for port users and port officials in the eastern ports, put together by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and the CBI in partnership with the Technical Unit of on Government and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).
Director of Programmes of the Convention of Business Integrity (CBI), and facilitator at the training in Port Harcourt, Emmanuel Bosah explained to journalists at the sideline of the training that while the ports in the Western zone have since moved fast in the reforms and recorded drastic reduction in complaints from vessels coming from parts of the world, the Eastern Ports were said to be unmindful of the transformation and continued with ‘business as usual’ that cause huge delays and costs.
“Part of this training today is to help those port agencies to strengthen their compliance function, and part of that of course is to help them improve the capacity to understand, to define, to detect, to respond to, and to evaluate compliance failures and successes within their institutions.
“Simply put, we want to train port officials to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which are the rules and regulations of their individual organizations.”
Emmanuel Bosah frowned that the same success at the Western port is yet to be felt at the Eastern Ports.
“A lot of port users and port officials in the eastern ports (Warri, PH, Calabar, etc) port users are still suffering and we are here to do this training and bring the officers within the fold so they understand that this is what is going on in other side and it is coming here. Those reforms must happen here too.”
“In the western ports (Lagos) we see significant changes in the behavior of port officials and also in consequences to non-compliance. This is not so in the eastern ports. That is the signal we are getting from the private sector port users.”
On their part, The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in eastern ports said they will work with other stakeholders in the sector to sanitize and transform ports in the zone to be in tune with transformation in the western ports Lagos.
NIMASA’s Ports Services Controller, Onne Port, Yusuf Barde,said “There is a lot of gains and at the end, we are going to translate this to the various offices back to the office. We are going to streamline the training materials for the assimilation of the entire staff force to be able to have a presentation of this nature at our various port offices to translate whatever we have learnt and find out the areas of improvements and corrections”.
The President on Compliance Function, Rivers and Bayelsa Shippers Association, Ofon Udofia while speaking on the issue of corruption at the ports said “It takes two to tango. In as much as we keep accusing port officials, but we have to report infractions as is done in Lagos. We have seen cases where officials in Lagos run away when they see officers coming.
“The problem we have here is people want to solve their problems alone, else, you still go to the back to give them what they want. Report, and join associations that can go and report as a group. We can report to PSTT, DSS, Anti-Corruption groups fighting along the exporters and importers.
We hope that in the next few months, there would be reduction in corruption in eastern ports”.