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COMTUA GRIEVES: Foreign Domination, lllegal Extortion set to send Operators out of Business

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COMTUA GRIEVES: Foreign Domination, lllegal Extortion set to send Operators out of Business

… Aroyewun says 220 truck extortion points exist between Amuwo Odofin and Apapa, despite PSTT orchestrated presence***

Committee of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA) is grieving that, despite the celebrated presence of the Ports’Standing Tasks Team (PSTT), about 220 truck extortion points still Operate freely, between Amuwo Odofin and Apapa, with only trucks owned by Nigerians being extorted.

The Chairman of COMTUA, Adeyinka Aroyewun who stated this last week while tackling claims that the officials of the PSTT have cleared all the illegal checkpoints within the port access roads, also warned that the development is capable of sending local trucks owners out of business.

Also read: COMTUA Issues 7-day Ultimatum; Demands Halt to Illegal Collections, Audit, Refund to Truckers

Aroyewun while hinting that the trouble might not be unconnected to the adverse influence of foreign domination then warned that local truck owners may helplessly fizzle out of business too, just like the indigenous ship owners, because of foreign dominance of the business in Nigeria.

He lamented that security operatives have cultivated the habit of not stopping foreign-owned trucks hence importers prefer them to avoid their containers being stopped on the road.

According to him, in the next five years, the industry may be totally taken over by foreigners because of the incentives they give importers and the sophistication of their trucks.

Aroyewun said he heard the Executive Secretary of the Shippers Council saying vessels are owned by foreigners, but in another five years, even trucks may also be owned, by foreigners too.

“Let me use a shipping company for example.

They own the terminal, and the vessels and they also bring trucks to convey cargoes and the quality of services these trucks offer, no Nigerian can offer it.

“As much as PSTT has removed FOU from the road, they removed them from Apapa but they are now in Ijesha, stopping other people’s vehicles; but will not stop these companies’ vehicles even if they are carrying dead bodies.

“Tell me which importers will not patronize them because the importer knows that whatever he has done whether correct or not will not be stopped on the road because of the relationship of his transporter with the Comptroller General or the President of the country.

“Will such importer leave such trucks and come to somebody that has two or three trucks?

“In addition to that, all these vehicles that they own, the moment you are booking their container from the country of origin, they will tell you they will give you demurrage-free days if you allow X, Y, Z transport company to load your cargo.

“Most of the problems we have is the insincerity of purpose.

“Like you said that from Apapa to SIFAX, the 26 checkpoints have been removed, says who? We are in this together.

If anybody challenges me, I will mention these 26 points from Apapa to SIFAX outward the port.

“And if you have removed them, what about the 220 checkpoints between Amuwo and Apapa Local Government?

“So, what is wrong in the outward is right in the inward.

I want to challenge everybody, we will lose this industry, we will lose this business!” he lamented, cautioning that the backlash of such development may further add greater pressure on social fabrics and environmental crimes.

Aroyewun also accused the PSTT of collecting kickbacks.

This is even as he said that the performance of the task team is being over-exaggerated, describing the recorded performances of the PSTT as lies.

He stated that though he could not ascertain the performance of the PSTT in the ports, he however said along the port corridor, he can only score the team 15%.

He pointedly accused the PSTT of being an active participant in corruption at the ports.

“You want to remove extortion and bottlenecks from the road, how far have you been able to achieve this, there are two extortion practitioners at the port, the state operators and non-state operators, the Police, the Customs, the LASTMA, the FRSC those are states, the non-state actors are the area boys, the unions. Which of them is no longer on that road, can you just tell me who is no longer on the road?”, he asked.

“The Police still have all their checkpoints, the same number of checkpoints; nothing has changed the area boys are there, the only one you have been able to remove is not total removal, but a change of location.

If you say you have removed certain numbers of checkpoints at the port, you have not really done anything;  because what we have now is just a change of checkpoints or extortion points!”

Specifically, he added that “They were in Area ‘B’ before, but now at Ijora; they were initially at ‘Otor Wharf’, but now at Ijesha, doing the same thing.

“As a matter of fact, it’s not like I’m sounding as opposition to PSTT, our association (COMTUA) was a member of PSTT, we wrote to excuse ourselves from that body.

“We were initially happy that they were coming on board, at least to solve our problems, but in one week of operation, we realised that we are the victim and if anybody is extorting us the only thing you do is to chase them away from that point to another point.

But in our own case, a vehicle that is broken down, a vehicle that ran out of gas, or a vehicle has a tyre issue which is a traffic matter that is being handled by LASTMA, or by FRSC or by the Police, the PSTT will still handle the same matter, tow the vehicle to a destination where they will not extort us directly.

They will take us to a point where we will pay N10,000 per day for storage, PSTT will claim they are not collecting any money, but you kept something somewhere where this person will collect N10,000 and you refuse to attend to the matter in one week allowing that person to make N70,000 from my truck; you cannot convince me you are not getting a kickback, then why did you choose that parking point? How did you negotiate that penalty?” he queried.

However, defending the performance of the PSTT, the National Coordinator PSTT, Mr Moses Fadipe posited that in the last 18 months of its operations, the PSTT has become arguably the single most impactful initiative of the administration’s drive in the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.

He said the PSTT has helped improve transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, and predictability in port operations in Nigeria, and has well improved the level of compliance by terminal operators, shipping companies, importers, exporters, freight forwarders and government agencies.

He added that multiple checkpoints of various government agencies and non-state actors from Apapa Port gate up to Ijora bridge, a distance of less than 3km after the terminal release of cargo, which contributes to traffic gridlock along the port corridor, have been dismantled while the exercise is ongoing along Tin Can axis.

He informed that over 150 trucks have been arrested and made to adhere to various compliance provisions through the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

Fadipe further defended that with the help of the PSTT, there has been a reduction in the number of extortion and checkpoints along the port corridors, informing that from 70 to near-zero, except occasional pin down by both government and non-state actors.

 

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TICT Debunks Alleged Plans to Retrench Workers over Acquisition by MSC

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TICT Debunks Alleged Plans to Retrench Workers over Acquisition by MSC

The Tin-Can Island Container Terminal (TICT) on Monday assured workers that it has no plans to embark on any retrenchment exercise, despite the acquisition of the African Logistics business (BAL) of its parent company, Bolloré Group by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). 

In a meeting with leaders of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Monday, TICT Managing Director, Mr. Etienne Rocher, assured that the acquisition will not have any adverse effect on the jobs and workers of the company. 

“There will be no change in obligations on the part of the company towards employees and vice versa,” Mr. Rocher said. 

He said that all obligations arising from existing contracts with the company will continue to be in force. 

He specifically stressed that the services of TICT workers remain relevant to the company, even after the acquisition. 

Recall that MSC announced in April that it had reached an agreement to acquire 100% of the African logistic business of Paris-based Bolloré Group. The agreement followed exclusive negotiations between the two parties initiated in December 2021. 

MSC’s acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics comprises all of Bolloré Group’s transport and logistics activities in Africa, including shipping, logistics, and terminals operations, as well as terminal operations in India, Haiti and in Timor-Leste.

Bolloré Africa Logistics is the biggest transport and logistics operator in Africa with nearly 21,000 employees in 49 countries, including 47 in Africa.

“The acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics reaffirms MSC Group’s longstanding commitment to invest in Africa and to strengthen supply chains across the continent, as well as connecting it to the rest of the world,” MSC had said in a statement.

Closing of the deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected by the end of the first quarter of 2023 at the latest.

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PORT SECURITY: NPA, Nigerian Army to Synergize, Protect Authority’s facilities- Bello-Koko

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PORT SECURITY: NPA, Nigerian Army to Synergize, Protect Authority's facilities- Bello-Koko

…Takwa Bay to get priority attention***

The Nigerian Ports Authority NPA and the Nigerian Army would synergize, to ensure enhanced safety of life and facilities of the Authority, particularly those around the Takwa Bay corridor.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello Koko highlighted this, stressing his commitment to collaborate with the nation’s security apparatus, especially the military High Command while receiving the General Officer Commanding, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Obinna Ajunwa at the NPA Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.

L-R: Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko presenting the Authority’s plaque to the Commissioner of Police Eastern Ports Command, CP Tony Olofu during a working visit of the CP to the NPA Headquarters, Lagos.

The Managing Director stated that the Authority has over the years enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the Nigerian Army whenever there was the need to maintain Law and Order within its corridors.

 He applauded the swift deployment of soldiers to the Authority’s Corporate Headquarters during the Endsars’ imbroglio where protesters who destroyed property belonging to the Authority were arrested and prevented from causing loss of lives. 

Mohammed Koko thanked the Army Chief for the visit, assuring him that the Authority was ready to continue to strengthen the partnership in order to make the Port and the nation safer at all times.

He, however, expressed his regrets to the Army Chief about the illegal activities said to be going on at the Takwa bay corridor. 

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko (middle), Commissioner of Police Eastern Port Command, CP Tony Olofu (right), GM Security, NPA, Khalil Mohammed (left) during the working visit of the CP to the NPA Headquarters, Lagos.

He recalled that the Takwa bay facility belonged to the Authority and had been Gazetted. A part of the facility was however given to the military for operational exercises but was surprised that the land was being used to carry out a series of illicit activities such as drug distribution and harboring of hoodlums.

Earlier on, General Ajunwa stated that the Military Authorities were at the NPA as part of military tradition of familiarizing with its neighbors such as the NPA. 

He reaffirmed that his personnel would assiduously carry out their core responsibility of protecting lives and property having assumed office in the last three months.

“I assumed duties three months ago. I felt that as part of our training, we should visit installations in my environment and one of them happens to be the NPA. My men are ready to carry out our responsibilities of protecting lives and property at all times’’ 

On the issue of illegal activities at the Takwa bay, Ajunwa further stated that the Command was discussing security-related matters with various Government agencies by way of being proactive in curbing unforeseen circumstances as the yuletide period was fast approaching, coupled with the forthcoming general elections. 

 “We are not expecting any negative scene, but we must plan for unforeseen eventualities,” the GOC said.

’He posited that the area was constantly being raided by his men, but would further ensure that his operatives work with the NPA team to come up with a lasting solution to the issue.

Expatiating further, the NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mrs. Oyinlola noted in her statement that the GOC whose team comprised other senior military officers were equally received by top NPA management team.

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APMT Reduces Issuance of Debit Note; NAGAFF Compliance Team lauds Customs

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APMT Reduces Issuance of Debit Note; NAGAFF Compliance Team lauds Customs

In tacit response to the complaints of the 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) over, alleged dubious, outrageous and multiple charges that slow down the pace of scanning as well as the deliberate imposition of payment of demurrage on freight forwarders by the management of APMT. There has been reduction in the debit notes issued by the terminal in recent times.

The reduction in the charges of the terminal might not be unconnected with the intervention of the management of Nigeria Customs Service. 

Alluding to this fact, the National Coordinator, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, in his reaction to the development thanked the Nigeria Customs Service for their prompt intervention while expressing hope that other issues raised in their letter of complaint would be resolved soon. 

It would be recalled that the Team in a letter addressed to the Area Controller, Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Command dated 7th October 2022,  complained that the deployment of scanners at the Premier Port  Complex, Apapa has suffered setbacks, following sharp practices of the members of staff APM Terminal.

Tanko who also addressed the press on the issue however warned that if there are no significant changes or improvements in the services at the terminal, they(freight forwarders) would withdraw their services in protest of the poor services, extortion, bribery, and deliberate acts to force demurrage on freight forwarders.

He had stressed that the reintroduction of scanners was a result of security challenges but lamented that one scanner at the Terminal was not enough to meet the demands at the terminal.

The 100% Compliance Team National Coordinator recalled that  APMT officials had earlier during a meeting in  Abuja promised to scan up to 800 containers per day but that the terminal could hardly scan 50 containers in a day. 

Tanko who is also a board member of NAGAFF as well as Governing Council member, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN),  however in the letter urged the CAC Apapa Command to consider physical examination for some of the containers to ease the pressure on the Premier Port with the volume of ships and quantum of containers coming into it. 

He also called for the increasing number of scanning machines in operation to at least four or five to meet the volume of containers, as well as deploying more officers to the scanners while advocating for the E- Customs (Electronic Selection Process), which according to him is the best option in the circumstance. 

It would be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed while commissioning the newly installed mobile scanners at the Apapa Port recently said efforts were being made by the federal government to procure and bring in more scanners to the seaports, land borders and airports.

The scanners, he disclosed,  have the capacity of dictating prohibited imports concealed in cargos as well as enabling up to 500 cargoes to be scanned in a day which brings about the desired effectiveness and efficiency in cargo examination processes.

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