Stakeholders at the flag-off ceremony for the commencement of the second phase of the
Operation Free the Port Access Roads, recently held in Lagos have admonished the governments to brace automation of revenue generation in order to hasten ease of trading and doing business along the nation’s ports.
Key to achieving any meaningful success in the quest to have free entry along the country port remains to eliminate the activities of non-state actors or agents who frustrate and hinder activities of trade.
Meanwhile, speaking at a stakeholders engagement meeting for the Second phase of Operation Free the Port Access Roads, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council ( NSC), Emmanuel Jime, said they recognized some people expressed their doubts as to the capability of the task team in successfully clearing the Apapa port complex to Sifax-Ijora Road corridor with a view to bringing sanity and ensuring free flow of traffic.
He maintained that even in the face of logistics and operational challenges, the task team has admirably achieved its objectives.
However, the success recorded, according to him, was not without dire consequences including stern resistance, intimidation, threat to lives and physical assault of operatives, gadgets and vehicles.
“A case in point was the attack on some personnel of the task team including the National Coordinator where they were assaulted and harassed.”
“The whole idea of “Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors” is essentially to rid the ports and Ports’ Corridors of inefficiencies and corrupt practices to enhance the ease-of-doing-business. Therefore, I would like to reiterate my appeal to everybody or groups that still nurse reservations to kindly see reasons and cooperate to ensure that the Ports Corridors are free for ease of movement and conduct of businesses.
According to him, the second phase of the operation that was flag-off will be covering Apapa – Tin-Can – Coconut – Berger Yard – Mile 2 – Orile – Ijora axis.
“This is a 15.6km stretch of roads littered with shanties and trucks parked indiscriminately thereby causing untold hardships to other commuters and creating opportunity for extortions and other forms of corrupt practices by both state and non-state actors. Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors” is essentially aimed at ridding the ports and Ports’ Corridors of inefficiencies and corrupt practices is just one out of a series of activities of the task team since its inception in March 2021.”
Meanwhile, giving account for the activities of the team in the past one year, the National Coordinator, Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), Moses Fadipe, recounted that many industry players, observers and commentators have acknowledged their bold step to “rid the ports’ corridors of illegal checkpoints and other forms of corrupt practices has yielded tremendous success.”
He opined that their major challenges were those of inadequate logistics and manpower, adding that there were also hazardous encounters where personnel of the task team were assaulted and even held hostage in one occasion.
However, we would appreciate the support of the ministry to assist in pressing on the sister agencies to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to also shoulder some of the financial and logistical responsibilities of the task team.
He reiterated that Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors was the third in the series of activities in monitoring the implementation of the Nigeria Port Process Manual (NPPM).
“It is in recognition of safeguarding the gains from those exercises which stood the risk of getting eroded by different forms of corrupt practices at the ports’ corridors that the idea of freeing the corridors was conceived and following a painstaking development of an action plan, the modalities of operations were put in place which culminated in the flag-off in April. Today’s event is in keeping with the modalities and to reiterate the commitment of all stakeholders so as to effectively actualize the objectives that we set out to achieve.”
Also, commenting on the programme, the Director, Consumer Affairs, NSC, Mr. Agu Chukwuemeka, called on the security agencies present to up their game in ensuring traders find it easy to do their businesses.
“We are gathered here to make trade easier, if we make trade easier more trade will happen and Nigerians traders are operating under a very difficult environment. You see various non-state actors stopping vehicles on the road extorting money from them and nothing happens. When we create barriers to trade, you are creating barriers to develop and there is no way if we want to develop we will not comply.”
According to him, “Why should the government be collecting revenue on the road? So I am appealing to the federal, state and local government and agencies to try and find a way of collecting your revenues from roads. The Lagos State government remains an example of using automation to collect revenues.”
Present at the meeting includes the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Mrs. Magdalene, who was represented by Mr Adams Ofie ; Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Nigeria Police represented by the Lagos State and Zone 2 Commands; FRSC represented by Lagos State Sector Command; Nigeria Customs Service represented by the Federal Operations Unit; Department of State Services (DSS).