By Innocent Orok
The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike has called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to organized a critical stakeholders meeting to address the port congestion in the Lagos ports.
The ANLCA president made the called while addressing maritime journalists on sundry issues affecting the maritime industry. He said though the NPA has the powers to divert vessels, but there should be a stakeholders meeting especially comprising of the importers and consignees of such goods to be diverted in order not to create crises.
” We strongly believed in decongestion of the Lagos ports to other ports in the country. The NPA has the right to divert cargoes, if they feel the waiting time is high, but let them organized a stakeholders meeting with the consignee’s of such goods to know the importance of such action. Who pays the extra cost of the diversion from Lagos to the eastern ports? ” Nwabunike asked.
On the congestion, he said ANLCA is strongly calling for the dredging of the Calabar and Warri ports to ease the berthing of bigger vessels. Nwabunike said dredging of the Calabar and Warri ports is one of the proposal made to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha during their visit to the SGF, recently in Abuja.
He said the ANLCA team that visits the SGF and the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki discussed several issues among them, the traffic gridlock at Apapa, imperative of having Special Assistant on Maritime Affairs to the President, multiplicity of government agencies in and around the ports and a second look at ongoing partial border closure.
Others are, the need for modern scanners in the ports, call for the establishment of chartered Institute of Customs Brokers and the dredging of the Calabar port channel.
The ANLCA president also caution on the large quantum of empty containers loitering Nigerian Ports environment and called on government to take immediate action to avoid the country being turn into an empty containers haven.
On the collection of the Practitioners Operating Fees ( POF) by the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria ( CRFFN), the ANLCA president said his association is fully in support of the collection.
“On the POF, ANLCA agreed to the collection based on what the CRFFN told us, among them training and welfare of our members and also to take care of the association. Based on this, we decided to partner with them. Let’s give them at least one year and see how they will perform”.
Nwabunike also shade more light on some of the crisis in ANLCA, saying the peace and reconciliation committee is almost rounding up their work and will come out with a white paper that will address all the issues, including conducting of chapter elections.
He said he is not distracted by the minor issues happening in the association as he is bent on bringing everybody together and that his primary focus is to help his members solve the hiccups that is affecting their businesses in Nigeria ports.