The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has asked importers and agents to stop blaming terminal operators for them not returning empty containers to shipping companies on time.
The General Manager, Monitoring and Regulatory Services of NPA, Mrs Eniola Williams, who gave the charge in Lagos recently during a tour by the Ports Standing Task Team (PSST), said empty containers are not supposed to be returned to the port but to designated holding bays owned by shipping companies.
She spoke against the backdrop of a truck driver caught at the NPA exit gate attempting to bribe security officials manning the gate.
“If we want to talk about empty containers, I would want us to give particular instances, because we have a policy on empty containers now, as they are not supposed to come in directly to the port. Empty containers are to go to the holding bays, and the holding bays are scattered everywhere.
“So it would be helpful if we take this conversation beyond where we are now, which is the vision of the journey we are all travelling towards, which is that of the port that we desire,” she said.
She explained that the NPA management had over the time, been looking at how the port system could be improved in line with global best practices.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani had expressed concerns over the action of the truck driver.
“We just witnessed a situation where a driver had some money folded into the document he was going to be presenting to the officers at the gate, which is like the final point of exit to the port. The team is already engaging in it.
“He told us he voluntarily decides to give people at the gate money, but he also claimed that even if he doesn’t give them money, he is allowed to go.
“This is his own version, but we will look at it. The (port task) team is already working on this because it takes two to tango – the willingness to give out and the willingness to accept. Whether you are giving or accepting, you are abetting the crime and those are the things we want to fight and stop along our corridors.
“The team is already working and like I said before, let us give another year and come back and evaluate what we are trying to do to see the impact on Nigeria,” she said.