*Seeks sanctions for errant organisations

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman, has accused some federal government agencies operating at the ports of violating the executive order signed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on ensuring 24-hour port operations and synergy among such agencies.

Bala-Usman, while featuring on a television programme yesterday, said Osinbajo, while serving as acting president in 2017 had signed an executive order on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment and directed the resumption of 24-hour operations at the Apapa port.

According to her, the vice president also banned touting at all air, land and sea ports.
She stated that only NPA obeyed the order, while other federal government agencies refused to do so.

Bala-Usman added that up till now, the agencies that flouted the order have not been sanctioned.

She said: “If you recall there is an executive order that was signed by the vice-president, which directed all agencies of government to conduct inspection (of containers) in one location and that executive order was signed in 2017.

“Certain agencies of government have not complied and one of the things we have said is sanction for non-compliance with an executive order that was released cannot be done by the Nigerian Ports Authority.”

She stated that if an agency of government violates an executive order signed by the vice president, the presidency should sanction that agency for non-compliance.

She said the essence of all agencies doing inspection in one location was for consignees not to have multiple areas of inspection.

Bala-Usman said she had reported the matter to the Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business chaired by Osinbajo but nothing was done about the flouting of the order.
According to her, port operations will not run smoothly if it is only the NPA that is meeting its obligations.

She added: “There is an executive order to that extent. Some agencies have not complied. There have been several explanations and justifications for the non-compliance by these agencies. The NPA has raised it to the Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business chaired by the VP to ensure sanctioning for non-compliance and as I keep saying if a directive is given and agencies don’t comply, if there are no consequences for action and inaction, that means I have not performed.”

She urged the federal government to hold agencies not complying with the directive liable.
“For example, we have 24-hour port operation that has been directed. All agencies of government are required to deploy personnel to have 24-hour port operation.

“We deployed our personnel but the other legs were absent. And of course, we cannot sanction other agencies of government,” she stated.

Bala-Usman said the attention of the Presidential Council on the Ease of Doing Business had been drawn to the issue to ensure that those agencies also participate in the 24-hour ports operation.

She added that the Apapa gridlock will end with the introduction of the electronic call-up system in port operations.

According to her, the new policy, set to take effect from tomorrow, will move Apapa ports operations to a digital format.

“The electronic call-up is key as you are aware that anything electronic seeks to remove human intervention,” she said.

She said the creation of truck parks was vital to the new electronic call-up system.
“We have eight truck parks that have been approved by Nigerian Ports Authority and the Lagos State government,” she said.

Bala-Usman stated that the electronic call-up system will address extortion in the truck parks.

“It takes away the idea that an officer, be it LASTMA, police or ports security, will give authority to go into the port, which may give room for extortion.

“All trucks that intend to assess the ports both for drop-offs and pick-ups have to do it from the approved truck parks.

“Cargo must also be ready for collection before trucks begin their journey; that proposed sanity should help in tackling the Apapa gridlock,” she said.

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