The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has backed the probe by the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport over the missing 282 vessels at Nigerian ports. The association, in a statement yesterday, signed by its President, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said the infractions have been going on for a long time, which it complained on several occasions to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) without action.
He said it would not be the first time vessels would be missing from the Nigerian ports as the first was during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, when his Special Adviser on Maritime Affairs, Mr. Leke Oyewole, blew the whistle.
His words: “Investigations were done haphazardly when he (Oyewole) raised the alarm and it is coming up again. Every allegation raised by the Senate committee seems to have an iota of truth and, as such, the Nigerian Ports Authority should provide a pathway to unravel the ugly recurring incidence.
The SALS boss, who corroborated the committee’s findings, added that ship owners collude with importers to evade paying customs duties, which prompted the association to seek audience with the managing director of NPA without success. According to him, the infraction has led Nigeria to loss of huge revenue, which explains why the Senate committee should be commended for acting promptly to block the revenue leakages at the port.
Nicol urged Nigerians to support the Senate in the probe by providing useful information to assist the committee in its task instead of the blackmail currently mounted by some Nigerians to derail the probe and divert attention from the monumental loss in revenue at the ports.
“Nigerians on genuine efforts to better the lot of the country should be supported in all ramifications and not any cheap blackmail to discourage them, because it will not lead us anywhere,” the association added.
While calling for better synergy among ports operators, the SALS boss said his association remains firmly committed to be fair and unbiased to all stakeholders in the industry and is prepared to work with NPA to provide useful information on the leakages in the maritime sector.