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Presidential Committee Makes Case For Calabar Port

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The Presidential Task Force on Customs Reforms has urged the Federal government to evolve policies that would ensure commercial viability of the Calabar Port, to justify the huge investment already in place.
Chairman of the Task Foce, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, who stated this in Calabar at the end of the last leg of its tour of Customs formations, stressed the need for government to restore the port to its former status as a busy business haven for importers and exporters.
He listed factors militating the viability of the Port as shallowness of the river channel and poor road network between Calabar and the hinterland. He called on the government to take prompt action to redress the situation.
“We have come to Calabar Port, we have seen the situation there. The port is virtually down. This is similar to what we saw at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport. The Customs cannot generate and collect revenue under such circumstances. Therefore, something drastic must be done if the Federal Government must tap the revenue potentials in the nation’s non-oil sector,”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Cross River State command of the Service had generated N1,181 billion as at June, 2009.
Mr. Bellu Ralph Obiora, the Cross River/Akwa Ibom States Area Comptroller, disclosed this during the visit.
Mr. Obiora said the command is working to meet, or even surpass its estimated target for the 2009 fiscal yar, but regretted that commercial activities have dwindled and remains at a low ebb in the command because the Calabar seaport is under utilized.
“We have not had container – carrying vessels here for a long time, the non-dredging of the waterways does not allow for bigger vessels to berth.
There are no international cargo flights coming into the Margaret Ekpo International Airport,” he stated.
Apart from low patronage, he also said that “the current global economic meltdown is also taking its effect on all trading activities generally.
The Calabar Free Trade Zones (CFTZ) does have enough industries to help boost our revenue base.”
He explained that the situation is worsened by the lull in economic activities at the premier Tinapa Business Resort and lesisure and the dilapidated condition of the federal roads leading to the state as heavy duty trucks were finding it extremely difficult to haul their cargoes in and out of the state.
But to boost its revenue generation, the comptroller said the command has introduced a dual roving patrol unit in the two states to fight and frustrate smugglers as well as holding meetings and sensitised the used car dealers in the two states to start paying customs duties on their vehicles.
He said despite the efforts of the command, it was yet to yield dividend and meet up with the high expectations.

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E-Call Up System: Truckers Raise Alarm Over Extortion

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Experts in the haulage and logistics supply chain of the maritime sub-sector have raised alarm over alleged hike of the e-call up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and managed by Truck Transit Park (TTP) Limited.
The experts lamented that the official N10,000 charges collectible  by TTP Limited allegedly goes for N25,000 per truck, adding that multiple taxation and extortions from the various associations may trigger further  hike in charges of container laden trucks  if not properly addressed.
According to them, gladiators in the political arena are allegedly engaging thugs along the corridors of ports to extort truckers ahead of the 2023 elections .
Chief Executive Officer, Nedu Logistics Solutions Limited, Mr. Kelvin Okechukwu, in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos lamented that despite paying huge amount on call up system to evacuate containers , multiple extortions from the thugs under the guise of representing various associations in haulage activities create more problems for genuine operators in the clearance of cargo from the ports.
He alleged that the monies collected for the call up in recent time have been extremely high for the truckers to pay, calling on the relevant authorities to review the charges because the current N25,000  rate will not go down well for genuine operators.
Okechukwu reiterated that the call up charges now attract about N25,000 officially and with a break down of the new collection, he alleged that “They collect the call up in three phases and each phase attract N10,750 while we the truckers are to pay twice with additional N5,000”.
He further alleged that there are about twelve points manned by security agencies and the  touts thus demand and extort N1000 from truckers at every point along the port corridors.
Along the Apapa/Oshodi corridor, he said, every 500 meters attract a N1000 levy or ticket payable to the various touts claiming to be members of haulage associations and security agencies.
Calling on the government to find lasting solutions to end touting along the port corridors, he said, “I’m telling you authoritatively that those touts on the roads are working for politicians.
“We have done so much to push them out but at the end of the day, they are still there on the road because they have the political backing above.
“We go to police, they will say there is nothing they can do, even when we go to the navy, they will even give them protection.
He lamented that the Police, LASTMA and NPA personnel are not left out of frustrating the genuine haulage operators against the backdrop of the objective of the call up system.
While expressing frustration over the bottlenecks and extortions on cargo movement  from the ports in Lagos, the logistics service provider stated that the call up system was aimed to reduce the challenges faced by truckers and not to create setbacks for operators .
He urged the Federal Government to prioritize the port corridors construction to enable smooth vehicular movement of haulage trucks, noting that the call up has potential to enhance  movement of cargoes from the seaports
On his part, a chieftain of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Arthur Igwilo,  lamented that the multiple extortion has led to the hike in the cost of manufactured goods in Nigerian markets.
Igwilo decried the humiliation and molestation of truck drivers and their assistants in  the hands of thugs, even as he appealed  to the government to put motion in place to eliminate the hiccups affecting trade facilitation.
Attempts to contact officials of TTP Limited proved abortive as messages sent was not replied as at the time of filing this report.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Usman Challenges  NPA, Staff To Prove Alleged N40bn Fraud

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The suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has challenged the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and staff to show proofs of her alleged N40 billion fraud.
Usman also debunked claims that while in office, the agency did not remit N40bn, $921.61m and £289.931.82 into the Federal Government accounts as alleged.
In a statement she personally signed, erstwhile MD claimed that reports of unremitted monies into the federation account by the NPA when she was MD were meant to tarnish her image.
According to her, “Media reports alleging that the Auditor-General of the Federation issued some queries regarding monies being owed the NPA by Terminal Operators have come to my attention.
“Ordinarily, the NPA should clear the air about these allegations, and for this reason, I have refused to make any comments since the news broke.
“However, it is becoming more apparent that tarnishing my image is the primary mission of promoters of the story.
“For instance, several people sent me a social media post with the title: ‘NPA Audit indicts Hadiza Bala Usman for not remitting N40b, $921.61m and £289.931.82 to federal government accounts’.
“I make bold to say that this report is untrue and a fallacy from the imagination of anyone spreading the falsehood.
“I also challenge anyone with proofs of this allegation to present them in public”, she stated.
She further explained that even if there are monies unremitted into the federal government’s accounts, these monies will remain in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) where all revenues generated by the Authority domiciles. In addition, the Authority will have explanations for any audit queries that may arise, whenever they do.
“The report claimed that the imaginary allegations of abuse of office, corrupt enrichment and failure to account for billions of naira led to my purported sack”, she emphasized.
On her sack as the MD, NPA, Usman said she has not received any information or letter of sack from any quarters until this moment.
“I state without any equivocation that I have not received any information about my purported sack from any quarters until this moment.
“I have also not been indicted for any offence as alleged in these increasing lies.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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E-Naira Acceptance Faces Poor Mobile Networks, Other Threats

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Poor mobile networks as well as limited spread of Internet-enabled devices, among others, are currently threatening the acceptance of eNaira across the country, according to a report by Omaplex Law.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in October 2021 introduced its digital currency, called the eNaira, saying it hoped to increase financial inclusion and make cross-border payments easier for enterprises.
The CBN disclosed 400,000 accounts were created and over 12,500 transactions were made within a month of launching eNaira.
The report, titled “Omaplex 365: Nigeria 2022 socio-economic and technological outlook”, stated that the lack of quality mobile networks and the limited spread of Internet-enabled devices have been a significant bottleneck in the acceptance of the eNaira.
“This is so because in most rural regions of Nigeria, network penetration is still heavily dependent on 2G and 3G networks, which spells difficulty for eNaira transactions hinged on the internet.
“Again, owing to the indigent status of a significant fraction of the Nigerian populace, owning Internet-enabled devices may be put on hold in favour of more immediate necessities.
“Accordingly, if the primary stated purpose of the creation and launch of eNaira is to promote financial inclusion, the highlighted issues may pose a threat to achieving that goal”, it stated.
The firm, however, commended the CBN’s efforts to overcome some of the existing obstacles.
“In this circumstance, it is highly commendable that the CBN in a bid to overcome these obstacles has elected to deploy the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data approach in 2022 to reach the most remote parts of the country without relying on network penetration or possessing an internet-enabled device before users can access the numerous benefits that the eNaira provides,” it said.

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