As part of measures to commence the process of implementing the Executive Order on the 24-hour port operation, the Federal Government yesterday issued a stern warning to unauthorised personnel and agencies in the ports to vacate with immediate effect.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos to kick-start the process, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said the Federal Government has issued a directive to the effect that only authorised personnel and agencies are allowed in the ports.
Such agencies expected in the port location include NPA staff, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Department of State Security (DSS), Immigration, Port Health and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). However, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), she said, should come when invited.
She also said that only authorised personnel that have access in the ports would be allowed to access the ports and only on-duty officers are permitted to be in the port location.
“We have given directive that unauthorised personnel should vacate the ports. Only authorised personnel that have access in the ports are allowed access. The port security has been given clear directives not to permit anybody except those that have business in the ports. Indeed this applies to officials that are off-duty. Only on-duty officers are committed to be in the port location and those directives have been clearly given. We also made it clear that once any officer is caught soliciting for arms, he should be brought to our attention for necessary action,” she said.
She admitted that the bad road network could be a hindrance to the effective implementation of the Executive Order, saying that both the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and NPA are partnering to provide a palliative work on the road.
“As you know, the roads are under the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. And the roadworks are not contained in the Executive Order that was deployed. We know that implementing the Executive Orders requires functional roads. Ministry of Works and NPA are partnering towards providing funding for the construction of the roads. Now we have ongoing palliative works. We believe that it is important for us to conclude on the main reconstruction.
Federal Ministry of Works is providing us with the costing and we are going to jointly fund the reconstruction of the road. But ongoing palliative work has started,” she assured.
On the security in the ports and across the country, the Inspector General of Police, represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Maritime, Pius Imue, assured of security in all ports across the country.
“Before the 24 hours directive, we have been aware of port security of human beings and goods. Thus, the Federal Government has established the Port Police. In addition, it has also created the Maritime Police Command covering all the ports and the inland waterways. We are to synergise within the port areas and to ensure that everybody is secured but outside the ports, which is very critical, I am sent for this meeting not just as AIG Maritime but as IG’s representative for this meeting. As we speak, I am going to Abuja this night. Meaning, all the area commanders have been fully informed on the need to secure the movement of goods across the country,” he said.
Concerning scanners in the ports, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, assured that the scanners would be available in a few months to fast-track the inspection of cargoes in the ports.
“Hopefully, a couple of months from now we will have scanners in the ports. We realise that for the fast-tracking of the cargoes, we need scanners. We have to subject every container to 100 per cent inspection. The government has agreed under the supervision of the Acting President himself that we should deploy scanners in the ports,” he said.
Reacting to the directive, a freight forwarder, Mr. Olusegun Ologbese, said that anybody who has no business in the ports should steer clear of the location as ports are not supposed to be crowded.