By Peace Obi

The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA in response to the FG’s government’s directive on the ease of doing business at the seaports has ordered Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to vacate the ports across the country.

The Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman made this known at a stakeholders’ meeting that has the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), operators and major stakeholders operating in the ports in attendance in Lagos, yesterday. According to the NPA boss, only seven agencies have the mandate and approval of the NPA to operate in the ports. The list has Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police Command, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Port Health Authority (PHA) as the only agencies approved to operate in the ports.

According to the Usman, “These are the seven agencies that are mandated and have approval to operate in the port, any agency that is operating in the port outside of these agencies are not required to and they should be aware that they need to vacate whatever location they are currently having within the port because the current approval and provision provides that they are not to operate in the port.”

She added that the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is to come to the port only when their services are required.

Stating that the executive order which NPA has started implementing would work to the benefit of all, especially to enhance operations and reduced costs, the MD said, “This is the current position of the agencies that are operating in the port. I can assure you that we have started implementing the executive orders, what is required now is for us as agencies of government to come together and harmonise and coordinate with stakeholders. We have issued the directives and our various officers have put in place the mechanism for implementing the executive order. The executive orders will enhance our operations and reduce the cost of doing business and improve the ease of doing business in our port.

“We have six executive orders that are attributable to port operations and we felt the need to bring together all agencies of government that operate in the port. The purpose of this meeting is to deliberate with stakeholders to fashion out ways we can implement the executive orders at the stipulated time lines. I will want in the first instance to recognise the seven approved government agencies that will be operating in the port. In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan approved the guideline to streamline the operations of agencies of government that are to operate in the port, “she said.

Speaking also, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali calling on all stakeholders to join hands in implementing the FG’s directed as contained  in its ease of doing business,  said. “I take this opportunity to underscore the importance of this meeting; it is key to our operations. We have never had this before; the tendency is for us to say it is one of those things that come once in a while.

“This time around, it is going to stay because we believe that all of us should be committed to this. It emanated from the ease of doing business. We are trying to reduce time and processes in doing what we are doing and it is only when we abide by this that we can achieve it. Our being here this afternoon is to underscore the seriousness.

“We have been given a marching order, there is no doubt about it, our duty now is to implement the order the way it is. What I enjoin all of you is to join hands with us so that we will implement this to the letter. If we do this, first and foremost we would have succeeded in meeting the mandate, secondly, we would have succeeded in reducing the cost and time of doing business at the port.

“The most critical thing is time and cost, for importers, these are very critical for them. Even for those of us who are operators, it is critical to us. I don’t see why we should spend more time doing what we should do in less time. I don’t see why we should elongate our processes of papers and approvals, it just doesn’t make sense. This is the time for change,” Alli said.

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