By Chinonye Anyatonwu
The Association of West African Exporters and Maritime Professionals (AWAEMAP) has cried out to the public, accusing the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mr Mohamed Bello-Koko of strangulating Nigerian Agro- Export processing Industry, to give room for him and his cronies to corner undeserved retirement businesses for themselves
In a press conference organized at the Conference of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA) headquarters, Apapa Lagos, AWAEMAP President, Bunmi Olumekun, alleged that the NPA Managing Director has unilaterally chosen five out of many Export Processing Terminals (EPT) to process agro exports.
The chairman of AWAEMAP who is also the president of the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria ( BOAN). Dr. Olubumi Olumekun, lamented that the plan to introduce five export processing terminals will make Nigerian exports umcompetitive. and the plan would chase a lot of them out of business.
According to AWAEMAP boss , NPA MD seeks to introduce a new Standard Operating System( S.O.P) to establish one-stop terminal for agro export containers, referred to as Domestic Export Warehouse (DEW) and are meant to serve the purpose of a one-stop shop for all government regulatory agencies to process all agro export containers and also serve as the only pre-gate terminals for all Agro- Export Container boxes seeking access into Apapa Port and all other port complexes in Nigeria for onward shipments to various destinations across the globe.
The association stated that the measure to introduce these warehouses by NPA would have received warmly if the decision of the five warehouses as being arranged would serve to complement the already- existing licensed customs warehouses scattered all over country.
They insisted that the decision of the NPA MD on this matter, by designating only five warehouses where export-bound containers would be accepted for getting-in, has contravened the Customs & Excise Management Act, (CEMA), CAP 84 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, especially Part IV, Section 82 which clearly makes provisions for the use of licensed warehouses including private warehouses for the purpose of processing export-bound goods.
“This decision is being enabled by the MD of NPA to ensure he continues to enrich himself even after his tenure at the helms of NPA comes to an end.
“The NPA MD who has disclosed and undisclosed interest in these warehouses has decided that for his ulterior motive to come to light, he must likewise destroy the Nigerian economy while at the same time increasing the unemployment rate of Nigerians. We understand that out of the five warehouses being introduced, two are owned and operated by foreign entities.”
According to AWAEMAP, the consequence of implementing the policy, is that all the existing Licensed/FPIS warehouses used, owned and managed by our members nationwide would become useless.
“These DEW which are limited in number would be overrun by thousands of agro-export containers, thereby creating another round of congestion in and around the ports environment.”
Speaking further, “This policy will take the export industry several years back after all the improvement and achievements recorded since the introduction and implementation of the Electronic Call-up System through the Eto mobile App.”
They noted that if Bello Koko is allowed to implement what it described as a repugnant policy, it will wipe off improvements and sanity being witnessed in Apapa ports. It will also increase the overall cost of exporting agro commodities in Nigeria.
” This new system has ensured that Agro- Export Container boxes spend less time on highways ensuring better service and higher yield in the export industry of Nigeria.
“Invariably, our exportation prowess will decrease as exporters will be forced to sell at a loss as the international rates of exportable cash crops takes no cognizance of the exorbitant cost of exportations of our country due to the greed of a select few.”
If the policy is introduced, exporters would be forced to pay for handling charge, weighbridge documentation and examination position fees.
Trucking to ports and storage charges cumulatively amounting to about $650 extra charges per container box. It is instructive to state that all these charges listed would have been incurred by exporters prior to accessing this DEW invariably leads to double expenditure for exporters.
Currently, agro-export containers departing Benin and other neighbouring countries come at a cost of $200 cheaper than exporting same value agro export container box from any port within Nigeria following numerous regulatory and logistic challenges prevalent in the maritime export industry.
Condemning the situation whereby members are being subjected to hardship, the body said they find it hard to survive as they compete with neighbouring countries,stressing the need to prevent the actions of the NPA MD in this matter “as the ripple effect of this policy will cut across all spheres of the Nigerian economy”.
He beckoned on Nigerians to intervene and help them because of the damage PFP is doing to the system.
Contributing, the BOT Chairman, Alhaji Ina-Olaji Nofiu Liadi recalled that processing a container in NPA’s so-called five warehouses costs an exporter not less than N120,000. Other constraints, he stated, are unbearable bank charges coupled with expenses on the Eto system. He regretted that this cannot be regulated.
“Our case is on terminal export processing of goods whereby goods already processed are to go through same process in their so-called five terminals.
Further speaking, he said they had gone to court to interpret reasons processed export goods must undergo fresh processing to satisfy NPA MD and his cronies who run the five terminals in question.
Also speaking on behalf of his group, Comrade Adeyinka Aroyewun, President, Conference of Maritime Truck Unions Associations (COMTUA) insisted that NPA’s agenda was to keep truck owners out of business and to expose them to what he called stiff competition with foreigners.
“We’re rejecting the export-processing terminals. Why should we go through NPA whose poor management acts led to ports concession?
This is a racket between NPA and TTP Ltd. We’re rejecting NPA’s involvement in cargo handling. Extortion is NPA’s aim, provision of jobs to NPA’s cronies through whom they corner money and chase is out of business.”
The body however beckoned on the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to intervene and use her good offices as the economic regulator to discourage the attitude of business grabbing being exhibited by the NPA.
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