By Seun Ibiyemi
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network has identified Nigerian ports as one of the most challenging countries to do business in which are unlawful demands commonplace.
Danish anti-corruption project recently aimed at port, calls without demands for in-kind payments, harassment, or the threat of illicit delays.
Analysis carried out by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) concluded that it can take more than 140 signatures to get a vessel or cargo cleared by the local authorities in Nigeria
Executive Director of Danish Shipping, Maria Skipper Schwenn speaking on corrupt practices at the ports, stated that “unlawful demands put a huge risk on vessel crew and shipping companies. Cases of extortion, harassment and threats of violence are, unfortunately, not uncommon.
“Danish Shipping has a zero-tolerance approach towards bribery, and we are very pleased that the anti-corruption efforts have been fruitful.
“Danish-operated vessels call at Nigerian ports nearly 600 times a year so the financial value of fair and smooth port calls is enormous. It is of utmost importance for the shipping sector that trade and port calls are free from any illicit demands that cause iniquitous delays and stressful situations for the crew.”
”The lessons learnt here and the toolkit, we have developed and it can also be applied globally to combat corruption in other hot-spot locations,” said, Cecilia Torbrand, Director of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network.
“Through collective action, and the support of our donors we have been able to push for change in an environment no one believed we could. However, our work in Nigeria is not finalised.
“We must still ensure the tools and procedures are both used by the shipping industry and implemented in the ports. Together with the Nigerian authorities and our local partner, we have built a solid platform, and we are eager to continue to push for a positive change in Nigeria.”
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network has been active in Nigeria for a number of years and has been able to push for improvements in ports processes.
With funding from several donors, the network has been able to develop a platform of tools to improve the port environment. These tools have been tested in Nigeria with positive feedback and have been further enhanced by an integrity training kit for port officials.
To date, the project has supported the implementation of harmonised operational procedures in ports, the establishment of a grievance mechanism process, and has carried out an integrity training program for 1,000 stakeholders in Nigeria together with Martine Anti-Corruption Networks local partner.
Danish Shipping was responsible for the contact with donors and the financial governance. The project was kindly funded by Danida, the Danish Maritime Fund, Orient Foundation and Lauritzen Foundation.