Truck owners have been advised to form alliance in the fight against alleged extortions and other forms of corrupt practices by different security agencies in the port corridor.
The Maritime Anti Corruption Network in conjunction with Convention of Business Integrity (CBI) gave the advice in Lagos on Wednesday saying the synergy will help curb the challenges affecting movement of cargoes along the port corridor.
Speaking at an event tagged: “Addressing The Corruption Issues at Nigeria’s Port Corridor,” the Chief Executive Officer, CEO CBI, Mr. Soji Apampa enlightened the truck owners in the need to come up with facts, figures and verifiable data to help them fight the menace in the industry.
Apampa disclosed that a committee comprising of government agencies in the port, all the truck unions and associations, security outfits, other relevant agencies would be involved to tackle the issue.
He added that the only way to get the government’s political will is to have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on what state and non state actors are suppose to do to authenticate their demands.
He urged truckers to define the parameter of what is supposed to happen, rather than what the complains are, adding that figures and statistical data of attacks on truck drivers and motor boys , cargo vandals and extortions should be stated as factual evidences to their cry.
“What are the expectations of behaviour from both the truckers and the officials who are there; whether it is the state actors or non-state actors? Otherwise, if you do not define the parameter of what is supposed to happen, then, what are you complaining about?”, he quizzed.
Speaking further said, he noted “Hence, there is a need for solutions to address the issue. One of the critical points to look at in tackling corruption around the port corridors is political will. When there is political will, it will enable people to do things in a manner that is acceptable”, he opined.
“How to get the political will to be a concrete solution is when they said these are the behaviours that are acceptable by the people who are there. If they behave any differently, here is the punishment and here is the remedy. When you report any offender that behaves differently and they punish them, they will know that there is political will,” he suggested.
At the meeting, truck owners under the auspices of Committee of Maritime Truck Union and Association (COMTUA) had accused the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), shipping companies and other state actors of practicing double standards at the nation’s ports.
President of COMTUA, Mr Adeyinka Aroyewun alleged that foreign truck owners are given preferential treatment above indigenous truck owners by the NCS and shipping companies in the country.
Aroyewun stated that officials of the NCS don’t dare stop trucks owned by foreign companies operating in the country as against indigenous truck owners who are made to stop at each customs checkpoints.
He further alleged that as against the three days demurrage-free period enjoyed by indigenous importers, some of the foreign companies operating in the country enjoy as much as 20 days demurrage-free period.
Aroyewun further lamented that many truck owners are no longer in business owing to foreigners taking over their jobs. He said despite foreigners taking over their jobs, indigenous truckers have always been the victim of government policies and enforcement agencies.
Aroyewun while speaking recommended interim and permanent solutions to address corruption around the port corridors.
“Regulations of the existing system have always been applied by the authorities ever since the system is challenged, but it has not yielded required positive results. This may not be unconnected with the perceived compromises in enforcement and implementation. Though there is a limit to use of regulation, policy summersault and poor advocacy could equally hinder the efficacy of regulation.
“On the long run, the solution can not but be the deliberate expansion and de-centralization of the port system. Nigeria is blessed with a vast coastline and navigable water, unlike most landlocked nations of the world. Kudos for the ongoing deep seaport projects at Lekki, proposed at Badagry, Calabar etc. They are commendable,” he said.
Also suggesting solutions to multiple checkpoints, the Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners AMATO; Chief Remi Ogungbemi explained that there should be sincere political will by the Nigerian political leaders to end multiple checkpoints, corruption and extortion in the nation’s ports corridor by wielding the big stick against the uniform and non-uniform extortion bandits involved in the illegalities happening in the ports corridor regardless of their ranks, status and political connections in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and survival of transport sector of the maritime industry.
“There should be a sincere commitment by the top hierarchy of traffic and security enforcement agencies to tackle corruption by collapsing all illegal checkpoints, eliminate extortion, end the impunity, illegalities and lawless activities of the union and local hoodlums in the ports corridor.
“The birds of corruption, extortion, and lawlessness that is a cat walking on high heels and dancing in our ports corridor has its drummers in the bush nearby. The arrogance, lawlessness, and impunity with which uniform extortion bandits mount illegal checkpoints and extort truckers along the port corridors is an indication of legitimacy and support for their illegalities from the top hierarchy,” he added.
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