Bello-Koko destroying the Nigerian Agro-Export Industry - AWAEMAP/COMTUA

Bello-Koko destroying the Nigerian Agro-Export Industry - AWAEMAP/COMTUA 

... Rejects NPA's Policy On the Nigerian Agro-Export Industry 

Kathy Kyari 

Members of the Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA) and the Association of West African Exporters and Maritime Professionals (AWAEMAP) have criticized Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), for the NPA's new policy, which they have described as suffocating and strangling the Nigerian agro-export industry.

This was revealed in a press release from AWAEMAP made during a parley with the media on Thursday in Lagos and signed by the Secretary, Matti Adedayo.

Honourable Olumekun claimed that the Management, led by its Managing Director, Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, recently decided to establish a One Standard Operating System (S.0.P) for Agro-Export containers.  

In addition to acting as the only pre-gate terminals for all Agro-Export Container boxes seeking access into the Apapa Ports and all other port complexes in Nigeria for onward shipments to various destinations around the world, these terminals, known as "Domestic Export Warehouse" (DEW), are intended to provide a One-Stop-Shop of all Government regulatory agencies to process all Agro-Export containers.

"The resolution to introduce these warehouses would have been applauded if such decision is made to ensure the warehouses complement the already existing numerous customs licensed warehouses scattered all over the country. Rather the decision is to refuse entry into the Nigerian ports all over the country any Agro- Export bound container that has not made use of these warehouses.”

The AWAEMAP President further said “It is important to state that the actions of the NPA in designating these few warehouses as the only warehouses where export bound containers would be accepted for gating in is in direct contravention of the Customs and Excise Management Act CAP 84 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 ('the Customs Act") especially Part IV, Section 82 which clearly makes provisions for the use of licensed warehouses including private warehouses for the purpose of processing export bound goods.”

“This decision is being enabled by the MD of NPA as a pension plan to ensure he continues to enrich himself even after his tenure at the helms of the NPA comes to an end. The MD of NPA who has disclosed and undisclosed interest in these warehouses has decided that for his ulterior motives to come to light, he must likewise destroy that of the Nigerian economy while at the same time increasing the unemployment rate of Nigerians. We understand that out of the 5 of these warehouses being sought to be introduced, 2 are owned and operated by foreign entities” Olumekun alleged.

Alhaji Rafiu Inaolaji, the chairman of the AWAEMAP Board of Trustees, stated explicitly that the union cannot adhere to the principles that NPA is attempting to impose on its members.

“The truth is that we have no good regulator regulating the system and this is where the Nigerian Ports Authority wants to hide. Sometimes ago cargo intervention was taken away from the NPA, now they are forcing their way again into cargo intervention. Nobody wants to make case on the introduction of DEW, our case is on the Export Terminal Processing, for instance I have my warehouse certified by Federal Produce under Ministry of Commerce where it was well inspected, the facilities were there, even my warehouse storekeeper was being trained to the standard controlling the quality of this particular consignment".

"Despite all the procedure followed, with this new policy, it means I have to take my cargo to their terminal, offload and start the whole process all over again. Someone that wants to promote export can never be a partner in this kind of arrangement. That is why we are coming out now to speak up, so I challenge NPA to come out and tell the whole world what they want to achieve with this policy which is clearly aiming at frustrating the Nigerian Ago-Export Industry” he retorted.

In his remark, the National President of COMTUA, Comrade Adeyinka Taofeek Aroyewun, stated that they were never involved in the deliberations that resulted in this policy. 

“What NPA said about meeting stakeholders before bringing out the policy is not true. COMTUA, a collaboration of about 14 administrations in the maritime industry is not part of the meeting. If we are not part of your so-called stakeholders meeting it means your meeting is not genuine.”

Aroyewun cautioned that if Nigerian export and freight forwarders wish to continue operating, they must oppose recently implemented NPA policy.

“The agenda is that they want to chase us out of business. When we drop the cargo at the Export Processing Terminal, we are expected to leave the terminal with our truck and their own private truck will come and convey the same cargo from the processing terminal to the port, so it means we are gradually getting out of business” he stated.

The COMTUA President claimed that the Nigerian Ports Authority is engaged in racketeering. He claimed that certain individuals in charge of the organization do not have the best interests of the sector at heart; else, they would not be tackling it in this manner.

“We pay 10,000 naira on each container as a due to notify the terminal that we are bringing the container and most of the times the terminal rejects our containers saying they are not aware of the containers coming to the terminal. Going by the calculation of the NPA, they are handling 1.5 million containers all over Nigeria, and it is a must to pay the money before going to the terminal. if you do the calculation, your guess is as good as mine".

"With the introduction of this policy, exporters would be forced to pay for: Handling Charge, Weighbridge, Documentation charge, Examination Position Fee, Trucking to Port & Storage Charges cumulatively amounting to about $650 extra charges per container box. It is instructive to state that all these charges listed would have been incurred by exporters prior to accessing this DEW which invariable leads to double expenditure for exporters". 

Due to the numerous regulatory and logistical issues plaguing the maritime export industry, Agro-Export containers leaving from nearby nations like Republic of Benin currently cost at least $200 less than exporting the same value Agro-Export container box from any port within Nigeria. 

"Our members are already finding it hard to survive competing with our neighboring countries, this move by Mr. Bello-Koko would force most Nigerian exporters to begin to channel our export produces through these neighboring countries. It is imperative at this juncture to bring to the attention of the general public the actions of this public servant, as the ripple effect of this policy would cut across all spheres of the Nigerian economy” he emphasized.

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