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Stowaway cases rise, crime rates drop at Lagos ports – Police

Written by Maritime First
  •  As Ex-MD NPA, Suleiman says Nigeria will not attain hub status without deep seaports

Crime rate at the seaports in Lagos have reduced drastically due to low level of activities occasioned by low volume of importation, a senior police source in the Western Port Police Command has told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

He however said the ports have witnessed more cases of stowaways in recent times.

The police source, who pleaded anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak with the media, explained that compulsory charging of suspects to court without option of bail and other measures put in place by the police, including constant police presence at the terminals, training of its personnel had helped to discourage crime at the Lagos ports.

“Obviously, the economic recession is affecting activities in the port and this can be linked to some government policies. The port is no longer as busy as before, as the economy is really biting hard on the populace. And I think this is why crime has reduced in the port, but recently, few persons have been caught as stowaways on vessel,” he said.

The officer identified some challenges faced in the port as bad access road and poor lighting at night.

“The patrol team moving around the ports has also helped to reduce crime. The calibre of police personnel in the port are officers who know their onions and whoever is arrested is charged to court without any form of cutting corners. Such attitude has deterred port users from engaging in any form of crime.

“The re-training of police officers have also contributed to better service delivery because they now have the orientation that they are public servants so they have to be respectful and be courteous when talking to members of the public,” he noted.

He further added that there has been a good synergy with other security agencies especially the Nigeria Customs Service.

“The fight against crime is a collaborative effort. No one can do it alone,” he said.

In the meantime, a former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Engr Omar Suleiman, has said that Nigeria’s quest to become the hub of maritime activities in the West and Central African sub-region will remain elusive without a deep seaport.

Speaking recently in Lagos during the investiture of Princess Vicky Haastrup as President of the Certified Institute of Shipping of Nigeria (CISN), Suleiman said Nigeria must have a port facilities that can accommodate large vessels with draught of at least 15metres and that carry up to 10,000 TEUs.

“Without deep seaport, our hope of being hub will not materialise,” he said.

Suleiman, who served as NPA Managing Director from 2011 to 2012, also said that the inability of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to provide a transhipment tariff is hampering the use of Nigerian ports for transhipment of cargoes to “landlocked countries like Niger”.

Describing the investment ratio of 60:20:20 between the private sector, Federal and State governments in the development of some deep seaports in the country as inadequate, he said “about 50% of the port cost is taken by the breakwater”.

“Investors are reluctant to pay for breakwater, unless in special cases, breakwaters are provided by the government of that country.

“In Nigeria, government through NPA should provide breakwater and channel, these constitute the infrastructure for safe navigation on which compulsory pilotage is being charged.

“The 40% government exposure is not enough to build the infrastructures. This is one of the main problems of ports development.

“Government should review this policy to accommodate the peculiarities of maritime infrastructure. The best way to go is to set up a Maritime Infrastructure Commission to take care of all maritime infrastructure issues,” he said.

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