Clearing agents shun Nigerian ports, borders over infrastructure decay
• Osinbajo, CDS, NSA, others meet over maritime security
• Customs deplores accusation of officials
• Refutes claims of connivance with smugglers
Clearing agents yesterday embarked on an indefinite strike to protest what they termed worrisome level of corruption and infrastructure decay at the ports.
The agents, comprising Association of Nigerian License Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and truck operators completely paralysed operations at the TinCan and Apapa ports yesterday with many importers stranded.
The disappointed importers, however, urged the Federal Government to urgently respond to the yearnings of the clearing agents before the national economy is grinded.
Many of the dealers and notable manufacturing and service firms that were eager to clear their raw materials, machineries and other critical items were left stranded.
he agents, whose operation covers the seaports, airports and land borders’ entry points into Nigeria, had earlier given the government a 21-day and another 42-day notice of withdrawal of service if their grievances, including arbitrary increase in charges, impunity and extortion, as well as the deplorable state of ports access roads, among others, are not addressed quickly.
However, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman, has appealed for understanding of the two unions.
He said that major reconstruction work to completely overhaul the deplorable Apapa Wharf Road would be facilitated by the agency as an intervention and works would commence next month.
She described the deplorable port access road as a huge embarrassment to the country considering the amount of revenue generated from the port.
In another development, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday met with some of the country’s top security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to take a second look at the memorandum for maritime security in the country.
It was learnt that the memorandum is set to be presented for consideration and approval at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has cautioned citizens against making wild accusations against its officials, saying it has not helped in its current effort at sanitising the service.
Also, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, who spoke with The Guardian against the allegation that its officials are conniving with smugglers to beat the Federal Government special task force on banned imported goods, said such wild allegation is often vindictive.
He said that while the service could not claim that all its 12,000 officials are saints, majority of them are working hard for the economic growth of the country.