The Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive of Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Emmanuel Jime has expressed the urgent need for the establishment of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos, saying the new port at its take-off stage needs the presence of the Task Team which will ensure that the Terminal Operator and other relevant stakeholders to adhere strictly with Nigerian ports Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as contained in the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM).
Jime made this remark during a recent inspection tour of the new port by the Task Team, a pan industry best practices compliance and enforcement body of the Federal Government.
The Shippers’ Council boss who was represented during the tour by the National Coordinator of PSTT, Comrade Moses Fadipe, expressed concerns about vessel boarding time by government agencies and the quick evacuation of cargoes from the port.
He disclosed that the Federal Government has zero tolerance for corruption in boarding of vessels in all its ports and wants the same rule applied at the Lekki Deep Seaport.
Comrade Fadipe charged the Lekki Port operator that boarding of vessels by government agencies must be carried out in tandem with timelines stipulated in SOP of the NPPM.
According to him, the PSTT through its strict boarding processes has saved vessels demurrage to the tune of N5.4 billion.
He said before the establishment of PSTT in 2020, Nigeria had 121 infractions on vessel boarding, and the vessel pays 20,000USD every day for delay. He however said that this has reduced to zero through efforts of the Task Team.
He said that for a vessel calling at the Lekki Port, it is expected to be moored within thirty minutes and that Port Health officials are the first to go onboard for inspection.
“There is a need to control human elements and checkmate them, when the government agencies first board a vessel, if there is no infraction, we expect them to be done within thirty minutes, if not, they must disembark and let us know why, not for them to just remain onboard.
“When Port Health officials are going onboard, it is for thirty minutes, while that is going on, we expect Immigration and Customs to be ready to board jointly, this is why NPA is mandated to provide the Joint Boarding Bus which would be used to convey officials from a place you are going to dedicate for us as a muster point.
“At the muster point, whatever they might be having on them would be kept safely, only their identification or working tools would go onboard with them in a transparent jacket. There must be no souvenir, the way you go is how you come back.
“In tandem with ISPS Code, all agencies and officials must register their names as they are going onboard and the amount of time spent, the PSTT would be coming from time to time to check if they are in order. If we see any infractions on the part of any agency, then you would walk into our net.
“For the joint boarding exercise, only two customs officers and three immigration officers are allowed, and they have a maximum of thirty minutes, if for any reason they have to spend beyond that, they have to disembark. The idea is that the vessel operations must not be delayed.
“The NDLEA, NIMASA and others can board at their convenience and we don’t expect them to spend more than thirty minutes. There is going to be a feedback form, because there is a group called Maritime Anti-Corruption Network based in Copenhagen where we party with them as PSTT and Nigerian Shippers Council, and all what I am telling you is practiced on all vessels all over the world, it is zero tolerance for corruption.
“There is a platform where we operate and these vessels communicate with us in real time, so whatever is going on at your port, they report back to us,” he said.
Speaking on terminal operations within the Lekki Port, Comrade Fadipe said that the PSTT is concerned about effective cargo turnaround time.