The order to vacate the seaports issued to some agencies by the Federal Government appears to have fallen on deaf ears, investigations by our correspondent have revealed.
It was gathered that in addition to the seven agencies that were mandated to operate at the seaports, other agencies which were not supposed to be present were still carrying out operations at the ports.
During a visit to the Apapa Port on Tuesday, it was observed that the Police Anti-Bomb Squad, which was not listed among the agencies to be at the ports, was operating alongside the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The NDLEA had been initially included in the list of agencies to vacate the ports, but it kicked against the order, stating that it was mandated by law to work alongside the Nigeria Customs Service at the seaports.
The Nigerian Ports Authority, after reviewing the 2011 directive communicated to its Managing Director, Hadiza Usman, by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, readmitted the NDLEA to the seaports.
According to a statement signed by the Principal Manager, Public Affairs, NPA, Ibrahim Nasiru, on Monday, agencies mandated to operate at the ports are the NPA, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Police, Department of State Security, Nigeria Immigration Service and Port Health Service.
It added that the NDLEA should remain at the ports and inspect only relevant cargo.
It was, however, gathered that in addition to the eight agencies, others like the Plant and Animal Quarantine Service and Standards Organisation of Nigeria had made it a business to show up at the seaports.
An agent noted that documents were being signed by four agencies, the DSS, NDLEA, anti-bomb squad and Customs.
The Chairman, International Freight Forwarders Association, Mr. Paul Uzobide, advised the government to give stakeholders the mandate to implement the order and chase the unauthorised agencies away from the seaports.
He noted that there were still too many agencies at the ports whereas there was supposed to be just eight of them, adding that this was a big impediment to trade and contrary to the government’s vision of ensuring ease of doing business.
He questioned the presence of the PAQS and the anti-bomb squad, adding that the functions of the squad were already being performed by the DSS.
It was gathered from the agents that extortions were still going on as agents were made to go through several process of checks and signatures before they could move their goods out of the ports.