As part of efforts to jump start the implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), through effective and purposeful collaboration, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), last week paid a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the Port Health Services (PHS), Abuja.
Mr. Hassan Bello, the dynamic Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer who led by the council’s delegation spoke strongly on the need the need to clean up the ports by embracing discipline, orderliness, efficiency and zero tolerance for corruption.
He described the NPPM as a useful and important manual that all relevant maritime agencies should key into as a driving belt, further noting that as the department directly responsible for health issues, there is need for the PHS being the first agency to interact with vessels and crew, to prioritize time in the performance of its inspection duty onboard vessels, and also to reduce human contact; by deploying maximum of three officers onboard vessels, not more than 45minutes.
In a statement by the Rakiya Yagboyaju, Head, Public Relations of NSC, Bello reportedly explained that the turnaround time for ships can also be reduced through a pre-arrival communication between the vessels and the PHS, so that every activity performed on arrival of vessels on Nigeria’s shores would be for verification alone.
He said if the required attitudinal changes expected to drive the NPPM is correctly situated and practiced, then relevant agencies must begin to be self supporting and to reject gestures by vessel agents that offering transportation to inspecting agencies; as such practices enables corruption. Bello also noted that the PHS is capable of providing basic tools require for its primary duty, and where such is lacking should revert to the federal government vide sister agencies, to be able to operate totally independent of those it is established to monitor and checkmate.
AN apostle of port development and service delivery efficiencies, Bello also suggested for the PHS to publish infractions committed by vessels calling at Nigerian ports, to serve as deterrence.
Responding, the Director, Port Health Services, Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo, congratulated the NSC on its appointment by the Federal Government as the lead agency to coordinate and supervise the implementation of the NPPM.
Okatubo also thanked the Council ES regarding the suggested time interval of 30 – 45 minutes vessel inspection, noting that it is achievable as long as the ship in question has no issue.
However, he explained that inspections can take longer than 45 minutes because of the peculiarities of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has given rise to more activities on board vessels. These include checking the temperature and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test of the entire crew.
The Director PHS further stated that due to the emergence of the new strain of the virus, special attention needs to be given to vessels arriving from flash locations such Brazil, South Africa and India, where the latest strain of the virus has greater degree of incubation and spread.
He added that the PHS is working towards publishing penalties for infractions and is also solidly behind the Council, in the performance of its roles and responsibilities.