20 January 2013

Nigeria: House Sets Up C'ttee to Investigate Port Decongestion

Abuja — The power play between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Ministry of Finance over the decongestion of the Nigerian Ports may have forced the House of Representatives to mandate a joint committee to investigate and make recommendations within three weeks on what is delaying the decongestions of the ports in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

The power play and the congestion, it was learnt, have made ships to move to Cotonou, Benin Republic, to berth with the attendant revenue loss to Nigeria. THISDAY gathered that the power play is as a result of the attendant pecuniary benefits between the Customs Service and officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

As a result of this, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has mandated a Joint Committee led by the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Abdulmumini Jibrion, to investigate the congestion and report back to the House in three weeks, instead of the normal six weeks.

According to Hon. O.K. Chinda from Rivers State, in a motion of urgent national importance which was adopted, the House noted with concerns the congestion of all the ports in the country, with the attendant consequences of loss of revenue to the Federal Government.

THISDAY gathered that the ports have been congested since two years ago and an annual loss of revenue to over N100 billion has been recorded.

Chinda in the motion that was passed , Thursday, noted that the congestion of the port has portrayed "a false sense of non-functionality as well as pose a very serious safety and environmental problems ," saying " same could also lead to waste of time and resources and delays in emergency responses."

According to the lawmaker, "The congestion promotes pilfering of goods, loss of value of goods which runs contrary to the laws as against international standards and best practices."

Chinda and other sponsors of the motion noted that the congestions in the ports lead to demurrage, as this is charged for such periods that the goods are left at the ports, thereby making importers to pay and bear more cost which is a burden borne by the final consumer.

In moving the motion, Chinda said that unless urgent steps are taken to avert further loss of revenue and ships going to neighbouring countries to berth, Nigerians and importers would continue to suffer untold hardship at the ports and the nation would continue to lose revenue.

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