The confusion that began on Tuesday at the Tin Can Island Port over Nigerian Port Authority’s (NPA) demand for Port Pass before port user’s entry into the port took a dangerous dimension on Wednesday, when the same denial was extended to some Nigeria Customs Service operatives.
Maritime First was told that while freight forwarders were complaining over the ‘No Port Pass, No Entry”, the Authority insisted that having earlier notify terminal operators, Government Agencies and Labour of its intention to strictly enforce compliance, it also assumed that the terminal operators ought to have duly informed the agents in respect of the needful, towards ensuring easy access, when compliance would be enforced.
It was however learnt that not only were the agents and other port users not adequately informed, neither the Authority nor the Terminal operators was willing to accept blame for withholding the vital information.
Assisted by the Ports Police, the Authority’s personnel was said to have met a body of freight forwarders and Customs brokers determined to enter in to the ports for their legitimate businesses, and who would not be deterred.
Aside Freight Forwarders, the new regulation which equally affected the dock workers who resisted the new rule and subsequently ended up being manhandled.
The situation nearly got out of hand, when emotion flared up and the police released canisters of tear gas.
One of the licensed Customs agents who spoke with our correspondent said “We came into the Port at 8am and found out that the Port Security Officer, Mr. Akindele Olajide has led his team to shut down the newly built access gate erected by the Nigerian Port Authority. Why would anyone spring a law on us? Are we not in Nigeria again? Shouldn’t they tell us before enforcing an unknown law?’ he asked, saying they never knew anything until they got to the gate.
It took the intervention of various Stakeholders including the headquarters of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) before the people were allowed to access the Port around 12pm.
The situation today almost got out of hand when a few of the Authority’s guards attempted to bare some Customs officers on the basis that they did not have authenticated ‘Port Pass’.