The enlarged Presidential Port Standing Task Team, PSTT has flagged off the second phase of its “Operation Free The Ports Access Corridor” programme, after successfully completing the first phase. Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC Headquarters in Lagos, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mrs Ajani Magdalene said that the operation is an offshoot of the Implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) of which its effective and successful implementation will change the narrative and Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by the Transparency International about Nigeria. The Permanent Secretary who was represented by the Deputy Director, Inland Waterways, Maritime Services Department, Mr. Adams Ofie, commended members of the PSTT for the achievements recorded so far.
She said that the Ministry is aware of the major challenges of the Enlarged Presidential Port Standing Task Team due to inadequate logistics and operational needs for a more robust and effective implementation of the PSTT’s mandate. She stressed that the Task Team request is currently receiving attention from the Ministry for possible intervention and immediate facilitation on the acquisition of logistics and operational needs to ensure a seamless implementation of the PSTT’s mandate. She however solicited support for funding from all Maritime Government agencies and synergy with relevant Security Agents and Ministry to enforce strict compliance. “There is a good pointer to the fact that, the operation under review has positively served in the actualization of the objectives of the Executive Order 001 on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigerian Ports, as envisioned through the compliance of the Nigerian Port Process Manual, which is a focused action plan that is expected to be one of the Key Indicators for the effective implementation of Executive Order 001 in the Port Sector.
“Thus, the purpose of the flagging-off is on Compliance Function, solicit support for funding from the Agencies (NPA, NSC & NIMASA), synergise with the relevant Security Agents and the Ministry in order to ensure how best to enforce compliance, explore the ways in which a stronger compliance function through sanctions-based compliance (negative incentives) and rewards-based compliance (positive incentives) can be achieved” Ajani said. Speaking earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hon Emmanuel Jime, noted that despite logistics and operational challenges, the Task Team has achieved its objectives. He also added that the Task Team faced stern resistance, intimidation, threat to lives, and physical assault of operatives, gadgets and vehicles. Jime said that the second phase of the operation will be covering Apapa – Tin-Can – Coconut – Berger Yard – Mile 2 – Orile – Ijora axis. “It is not easy to walk the path that the PSTT have been through these past few months.
Many people had their reservations while others expressed their doubts as to the capability of the task force team in successfully clearing the Apapa port complex to Sifax-Ijora Road corridor with a view to bringing sanity and ensuring free flow of traffic. To be fair to the cynics, we all knew the enormity of the task to be a herculean one. However, at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, buoyed by the cooperation of other committed stakeholders, we were resolute and dogged in our resolve in contributing to change the narrative. It will be recalled that on April 14, 2022, the then Honourable Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi flagged off “Operation Free The Ports” to remove all illegal checkpoints and shanties along the port corridors while eliminating traffic gridlocks and corrupt practices that have been impediments to the Ease of Doing Business in Nigerian Ports. The first phase was to eradicate all lingering issues of corruption and gridlock along the Apapa port complex to the Sifax-Ijora Road corridor.