The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has reiterated its commitment towards improved security at the eastern ports of the country.
This was disclosed to newsmen last week amidst growing concerns over incessant piracy on waterways within the zone.
Addressing a stakeholders’ meeting last week at Onne Port complex, the Managing Director, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usma, stated that the issue of security challenge was responsible for the lull witnessed over the years in the Eastern port operations, however she maintained that the management was working in synergy with security agencies like the Navy to enhance its capacity to check security breaches.
Usman, who was represented by the executive director Marine Operations, Dr. Sokonte Davies, stressed that the Navy “has upped its efforts just as NIMASA too is also procuring some vessels and training persons that will man those vessels to make sure that the waterways are safer, saying that when the waterway is safe people would be attracted to bring their consignment.
Continuing, she reiterated that, “This is not a command. It is a business. You cannot command anybody to bring his consignment to where he or she doesn’t want. When you go to the airport, there are so many airlines; you fly the one you choose. And that is how the port facilities are as well. But we want to make sure that whatever thing that is causing distraction or making the ports in the Eastern parts to be unattractive is removed.”
She maintained that the stakeholders’ meeting which was to be a quarterly exercise was muted to ensure synergy between the NPA and its stakeholders towards improving efficiency at the ports. Such interface, she stressed would translate into better services from NPA, as well as promote the ease of doing business and operational efficiency at the ports.
Usman emphasised that the management of NPA deemed it unfair to receive payment for services it did not render and thus decided to ensure port users were not shortchanged for services they did not enjoy.
She, however, stated that the Executive Order on 24-hour port operations was initially meant for the Lagos ports but the management of NPA decided to extend it to the other ports in the country and was committed to ensuring the realisation of the order.
Meanwhile, the Onne port, Manager Alhassan Ismaila Abubakar has confirmed that the Onne port has keyed into the reform policies of the Hadiza Bala Usman’s led NPA.
This was contained in a welcome address he presented at the meeting, saying that the policies were in line with the presidential directive on the ease of doing business in Nigeria and these according to him were yielding obvious dividends in the business environment.
Part of the measures adopted by the Onne port in respect of the Executive Order, Abubakar stated, included the creation of export desk to facilitate movement of export cargoes to terminals, intensifying security to ensure checks around the entry/exit points as well as pedestrian and vehicular access into the port.
Others included letters to Terminal Operators to provide a single interface station to all agencies operating in their facility to be accomplished before the expiration of the 60 days ultimatum, inauguration of monitor cargo clearance process and report bottlenecks identified in order to meet up with 48 hours cargo clearance target, amongst others.
He applauded the contributions of the security agencies operating within the port, the Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Customs, NDLEA, DSS Port police, JTF among others which have reduced security breaches at the waterways, as well as the synergy between other agencies, like SON and NAFDAC that have impacted positively on the ease of doing business at the port.
In a related development, the Rivers Ports Manager A.G. Umar has called on the maritime operators to leverage on the improved facilities at the port for effective utilization.