BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
A group of maritime players has raised the alarm over an alleged extortion by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC).
In a petition to the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mauzu Sambo, the group under the aegis of Concerned Stevedoring Operators (CSO) decried the continuous collection of N250,000 registration fee from intending companies aspiring for stevedoring companies by the NASC, allegedly with the connivance of the NPA.
The group informed that the NPA in an advertised Public Notice (No:4035) made the above a condition for registration, noting that the demand is an act of extortion that has been perpetrated for many years and is detrimental to the economy and the ease of doing business espoused by the APC led government.
The NPA advertorial titled “Expression of Interest (IOE) For The Appointment of Stevedores At All Pilotage Districts And Crude Oil Terminals” directs stevedores to get stevedoring registration certificate to be issued by NASC as part of the requirements for qualification.
The CSO in a petition to the Minister of Transportation noted that the NPA seems to be interested in the registration which is why the Authority still allows NASC to use the advertorial to determine who gets a stevedoring contract.
The petition date October 4, 2022 signed by its Chairman, Segun Olabisi, read in part, “Honourable Minister sir, we plead with you to use your good office to mandate the management of Nigerian Ports Authority to publish another advertorial to stop the Nigerian Association of Stevedoring Companies from continue collecting N250,000 (Two Hundred And Fifty Thousand Naira) from all intending stevedoring operators even when they are registered with Corporate Affair Commission.
“If NPA has no interest with the matter, why have they not stopped the collection of the money and why are they allowing a few members of the NASC to continue to use an advertorial published since 2017 to determine who gets a stevedoring job in 2022?”
“Honourable minister sir, it will interest you to know that the same advertorial of 2017 is still being used to determine who gets a stevedoring job for terminals and jetties that became operational years after.
“To ensure fairness, we imploy you sir to mandate the management of NPA to cancel all awards made by the NASC after the date of publication of the advertorial; since it was expected to run for just a year.
“NPA should also be mandate to ensure removal of the provision in the said advertorial directing intending stevedores to get stevedoring registration certificate issued by NASC as part of the requirements for qualification, since the association is an interested party.”
It will be recalled that a number of disturbing reports about the Authority has recently hit the news wave under the watch of the incumbent Managing Director, Mohammed Bello-Koko, a financial expert who was seconded to the NPA under the President Muhammadu Buhari government.
He came in as Executive Director Finance and through the combination of providence and state administrative craft got elevated as acting managing director, and from there was confirmed substantive managing director.
Industry observers, who say that Bello-Koko has survived many in-houses wars, would have no problem dealing with the current revelation, which they posit was inherited and “only requires an administrative investigation to put to rest.”