The Shippers Association, Lagos State (SALS) has accused the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of colluding with shipping lines to deprive the government of revenue accruable from the alleged missing 282 vessels.
The Association in a statement by its President, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said the infractions have been going on for a long time but complaints by its members fell on deaf ears.
The President-Shippers Association Lagos State SALS Rev. Jonathan Nicol maintained that officials of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) ignored all such complaints and that the association is solidly behind the senate in its effort to unravel the circumstances behind the unpatriotic acts.
When members reported missing vessels, the association said, “Investigations were done haphazardly. Every allegation raised by the Senate Committee seems to have an iota of truth and as such, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should provide a pathway to unravel the ugly recurring incidence.
“The Senate Committee is only trying to rebuild a new platform for a sustainable and progressive Nigerian Maritime that will be a future pride for Nigerian and Nigeria in the international Community. Our association is keen to see a new port Order with an un-stained flag”, the shippers said.
According to the organization, ship owners collude with importers to evade paying customs duties; a situation the Association had sought audience with the present MD of the NPA without success.
The Senate's Joint Committee on Customs Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport headed by Hope Uzodinma had recently raised alarm on 282 vessels allegedly missing from the seaports. The Committee said that over N30 trillion was lost through leakages in import duties and other fees.
SALS said the infraction has led Nigeria to losses of huge revenue and commended the Senate for acting promptly to block the revenue leakages at the ports.
The Association urged Nigerians to support the Senate in the probe by providing useful information to assist members of the Committee in its task instead of the blackmail currently mounted by some Nigerians to derail the probe and divert attention from the monumental loss in revenue at Ports.
“Nigerians on genuine efforts to better the lot of the country should be supported in all ramifications and not any cheap blackmail to discourage them because it will not lead us any where”, the Association added.
While calling for better synergy among Ports operators, the President said the Association remains firmly committed to be fair and unbiased to all stakeholders in the industry and was prepared to work with the NPA to provide useful information on the leakages in the maritime sector.