The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) has said that it has the power to arrest, prosecute and sanction agencies, private operators and individuals who fail to comply with the operational guidelines in the nation’s ports.
The National Coordinator, Moses Fadipe made this known during a 2-Day Training Retreat organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON).
The event took place at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) in Topo, Badagry on Thursday, May 25, 2023, with the theme, “Enhancing Capacity/Efficiency in Modern News Reportage”.
Fadipe, while presenting a paper titled, “Port Standing Task Team’s Relationship with Government Agencies in Tackling Corruption at the Ports”, pointed out that its role is to improve transparency, enhance revenue generation, and tackle corruption, in order to encourage local businesses and foreign investments.
According to him, the PSTT collaborates with, and monitors the activities of all relevant government agencies and other key players in the port and ensure that they all carry out their mandate as stipulated by the laws that established them.
In his words: “The PSTT is responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) which includes the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all port-related activities.
“The PSTT ensures that all government agencies and private sector operators comply with the NPPM, thereby improving the ease of doing business at the ports. The PSTT also carries out necessary anti-corruption measures to dismantle traffic logjams fueling corruption within the port logistics rings at port Western and Eastern ports of the country
“Revenue generation is not a primary objective of the PSTT and so the team cannot be said to be directly involved in revenue generation. However, the NPPM which the PSTT enforces seek to establish a business environment in the country that would lead to improved revenue generation at the ports.
“This is done by ways of plugging leakages to ensure all revenues generated from port operations are remitted to the appropriate government coffers. The PSTT’s efforts are also aimed at encouraging foreign investors and local businesses to do business in Nigeria, as they are assured of a transparent and efficient port system”.
Fadipe highlighted that the objectives of the PSTT are already manifesting, adding that many industry stakeholders have attested to the reduction in the cost of doing business as the team has helped reduce delays and inefficiencies in the ports.
Others are the reduction of vessels turnaround time in the ports by streamlining processes and eliminating bottlenecks; reduced cargo dwell time; improved movement of haulage; reduction in unreceipted charges, and reduction in incidents of infractions.
“In the area of vessel clearance, the level of incidence of infractions where ship captains feel unfairly treated has reduced tremendously. This has been attributed to the PSTT’s efforts in enforcing adherence to the provisions of the NPPM and carrying out necessary anti-corruption measures.
“In 2019, there were 266 incident reports with an average demurrage of $20,000 per day. The PSTT was able to prevent unnecessary delays due to quick case resolutions. Case resolutions were down from 7-10 days in the past to 1-8 hours. This trajectory has continued to this day and the amount saved in daily demurrages could be estimated in billions of naira in addition to savings in other operational costs”.
On the difference between PSTT and other Task Forces in the ports, he stated that the PSTT is made up of various government agencies and private sector operators, while others are usually established by a single government agency.
He explained further that the PSTT is solely responsible for the enforcement of the NPPM and has a broader mandate.
“The PSTT operates on a more collaborative basis, with all members working together to achieve its goals in three broad phases. “Phase One: Monitoring of Joint Boarding Exercises and Rummaging.
“Phase Two: Monitoring of Joint Cargo Examination to ensure that goods are cleared in a timely and efficient manner. Phase Three: Dismantling of Illegal Checkpoints and Extortion Points at the Port Logistics Ring tagged “Operation Free the Port Corridor”, he said.
The PSTT boss revealed that members are exposed to risks and dangers such as physical attacks, verbal abuse, and threats to their lives and families, as well as bribes while carrying out their duties.
To mitigate the risks, he said that the PSTT has put in place measures to protect its members by providing them with security personnel and protective gear, as well as ensuring that they are adequately trained.
According to him, the management of the team also works consciously with limited resources to ensure that members are incentivised with tokens of allowances and other benefits.
Speaking further, Fadipe tasked AMJON members on accurate and objective reportage on the PSTT’s operations to ensure that the public is well informed about the efforts of the team in tackling corruption at the ports.
While suggesting a collaboration between AMJON and the PSTT, he noted that the team will henceforth, update the association regularly on its activities, initiatives, challenges or successes to bridge the information gap.
“AMJON members are expected to adhere to ethical journalism standards and avoid sensationalism or biased reporting. Clear and informed reportage by AMJON members can contribute to building public trust in the PSTT and its efforts to improve transparency and efficiency in port operations.
“AMJON members can also provide feedback and suggestions on how the PSTT can improve its operations. This collaboration can lead to better-informed reportage by AMJON members and a stronger public understanding of the PSTT’s efforts to tackle corruption at the ports”, he added.
The PSTT was established in 2021 to monitor and enforce compliance with the provisions of the NPPM. It is made up of various government agencies, including the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).