General Manager of Port Terminal Operations Nigeria Limited, (PTOL), Mr Ephraim Efiota, has decried incessant reports of insecurity in the Nigerian waterways, saying it attracts additional surcharges from importers.
Efiota who stated this at the commissioning of Reach Stackers heavy duty machines within the premises of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Port Harcourt Ports, said several media reports on insecurity on the Nigerian waterways frightened foreign investors and countries where local importers brought in goods.
He further said these countries took advantage of such reports to impose all kinds of charges on importers, appealing that the security situation in the country was not as bad as being reported.
Efiota noted that some of the countries where imported goods were coming from relied on the old statistics about insecurity on the waterways to impose charges on imported goods.
The PTOL boss, however, said that the security challenges in the country were being tackled by the Federal Government and urged the media to imbibe the culture of developmental journalism.
”When we talk about insecurity in Nigeria, especially the waterways, we have to balance it and be careful on the kind of information we give out so that we don’t shoot ourselves on the foot. I believe that there was a time insecurity was on the high on the waterways, but recently we are not hearing much of these attacks anymore.
“Some persons may say there is so much insecurity on our waterways, probably believing on the statistics of the past. By the time we are saying this to the international communities, we are just giving false information and what does this lead us to, you find them imposing all kinds of surcharges such as insecurity surcharge, congestion surcharge on our importers and so on.
“The issue of insecurity on the waterways has drastically reduced,” he said, adding that business activities at the Port Harcourt terminal has increased because of reduction of crime on the waterways.
Meanwhile, General Manager of NPA, Port Harcourt Port, Engr. Yanus Ibrahim Anji, has called on the management of PTOL to take advantage of the opportunities available to it and increase its facilities so that the company can deliver quality services to the customers.
”We congratulate PTOL for this feat. We want to call on them to get more equipment so that they can deliver quality services to their customers,” Anji stated.
NCS Intercepts Smuggled Indian Hemp, Other Products
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ogun State Area 1 Command, has seized 710 parcels of Indian hemp illegally smuggled into the country from Ghana.
The service said apart from the hemp, packaged in coconut size and wrapped with a street value of N25 million, it also seized 2,251 bags of 50kg rice, 36 vehicles and 1.4 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), among others.
The Command said the value of the total seizure was put at N667.8 million.
The Customs, in a statement made available to The Tide yesterday by the Controller of the Command, Comptroller Michael Agbara, said the Indian hemp concealed in a built-in- compartment of a truck was intercepted along Ihunbo axis of Ogun State following a tip-off.
According to him, no arrest was made in connection with the seizure as the driver of the truck fled and abandoned the vehicle on sighting the customs officers.
“We have 710 parcels of Indian hemp concealed in the vehicle. The smugglers reconstructed the vehicle in such a way that if you see it, you will think it is empty but on a closer look, you will know that there are two compartments and inside the compartment, we have the Indian hemp.
“The street value of each is N30,000 and based on that value, the total street value is over N25 million.
“The vehicle was arrested through intelligence and immediately the driver sighted our officers, he jumped out of the vehicle,” he said.
Agbara, who frowned at the high rate at which youths take Indian hemp, said the use of such substances was responsible for the high rate of crime in the country.
“We see the implication of this drug on Nigerians with a lot of of youth restiveness, banditry in the country. The youths cannot commit this kind of crime without taking something. So, if we are depriving them of these hard drugs, we are helping the country. It is part of our duty of protecting the country. We are after a saner Nigeria, not just generating revenue,” he said.
The customs boss said the command was collaborating with the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to ensure that those behind the importation of the smuggled hard drugs are prosecuted.
Navy Wants Special Court To Try Maritime Offenders
The Nigerian Navy has advocated the establishment of special court to try maritime offenders in the country.
The Chief of Naval Staff, (CNS) Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, made the call at a news conference held at the close of the three-day Global Maritime Conference last Wednesday in Abuja.
The conference is part of effort to accelerate adjudication of justice on maritime offenders and curb sea crimes in the maritime industry.
Ibas, who was represented by Chief of Policy and Plans Naval Headquarters, Rear Adm. Begroy Ibe-Enwo, said that the Maritime Domain Awareness has improved security in the nation’s maritime environment.
He suggested that certain courts in the country should be designated as maritime court to handle maritime cases.
On patrol efforts, the CNS said: “two ships are going to join us soon from the fishery department and will be dedicated for anti-fishery operations.”
“ For the patrol efforts, we have a trinity of actions, we are reinforcing by the day, The first leg of that action is surveillance.
“ The sea out there is a wide expanse of water, before we began to improve on our maritime domain awareness, it requires ships and maybe helicopters to sail out to sea to use their radar to see what is going on there.
“ But right now, in Abuja, Lagos, Calabar and other centres, we are able to see what’s going out there.
“But after seeing what we can see, the next is to deploy ships and helicopters to arrest and intercept these suspects.
“ That is one area we are still building on because we don’t have enough ships to dominate the entire waters that we need to police.
“ It is a work in progress, more ships are being bought by the government
“ With some other levels of collaborations even the fishery department is coming on board fully,” he said.
He noted that in Ghana, fishery department and their Navy collaborate very firmly on this to the extent that the fishery department also buys ships and vessels for the Navy to use.
According to him, that’s the model we are also adopting, two ships are going to join us soon from the fishery department and will be dedicated for anti-fishery.
“ The third leg is enforcement, which revolves around the legal regime. Fortunately, the piracy and suppression of criminal activities act is on.
“ It is already a deterrence by itself by the main fact that the criminals or would-be criminals know that there is a legislation that will bring them to book, that is already a check.
“ But those who still want to be die-hard, the law is out there to catch up with them.
“ It is not a new thing when we say to establish maritime courts rather we have recaptured to express it as the designation of certain courts within the country.
“ It will not require any parliamentary legislation; It is just for the Attorney -General and executive arm.
“ It can be executed so that certain courts can be designated for maritime offences, so that these cases can be expeditiously executed,” he said.
Firm Explains Shipment Of Containers To Calabar Port
The Managing Director, Hull Blyth Nigeria Limited, Christian Holm, says his firm facilitated the shipment of its containers to Calabar Port to open trade and business activities in the Eastern ports.
He said that the firm was willing to invest in the Port and open up business transactions in the Eastern ports.
The firm, in a statement made available to The Tide yesterday, said the vessel made its first debut at the port on September 22, 2019.
Holm, however, identified undeveloped infrastructure, shallow water drafts, poor road infrastructure and insecurity as factors hindering large vessels from coming to the ports .
“Port complexes outside Lagos have not been upgraded in accordance with modern seaborne trade”.
“This relates especially to containerised trade, where the requirements for sizeable port container yards and related handling equipment are not met,” he said.
The Managing Director also noted that water depth in rivers to the ports as well as alongside the quays have not been dredged or maintained, thereby giving rise to shallow drafts.
“The shallow drafts prevent access of average sized vessels to the ports, and shipping companies must instead deploy smaller tonnage which cannot provide economic transportation to most shippers.
“Road infrastructure to connect the ports with the importers and exporters’ places of business lack maintenance and may often be unmotorable. Delivery and distribution of shipping goods thus become uneconomic or even impossible.
“Security on waterways and port access roads is critically compromised. Vessels require expensive armed protection to navigate the rivers, and road hauliers can only move during limited day time hours with additional high logistic costs,” he said.
Holm said the investment by Marguisa Lines and the willingness of its customers to use the Calabar Port will be jeopardized, “unless the above key issues are urgently addressed by the government”.
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