Ahead of the findings of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NTA), which is investigating Port Terminal Multiservises Limited (PTML) over allegation of double-taxing clearing agents through the imposition of N10,000 for access card, port security officers have cleared the terminal operator of wrongdoing.
Backing PTML’s electronic port access card as requirement from freight forwarders intending to enter the terminal, the Port Facility Security Officers (PFSO), Lagos Maritime Security Zone, said the action is in line with the provisions of the International Ships and Ports Facilities Security (ISPS) Code.
Chairman of the zone, Mr. Ignatius Uche, bereted freight forwarding associations for resisting the initiative, since under the ISPS Code, no facility should allow unauthorised persons into its premises without profiling.
Noting that the clearing agents merely wanted to cause trouble, Uche warned that PTML should not be cowed from enforcing the initiative, “except we are saying every Dick and Harry should come into the terminal.
“They (agents) are sycophants. They want to cause trouble,” online maritime platform, Ships and Ports, quoted Uche as saying. “They have pecuniary motive wanting to stop them from doing that.”
Dismissing the argument on double-taxation, he stated that “PTML is a green port and there is no first interface with Nigerian Ports Authority before they have access to their facility. So, how do you expect them to know the genuine agents when there are no screening points before you enter PTML?
“They want it to be like the former ports where people can even sleep inside the terminal. It can’t happen today. They are not yet informed, especially with respect to ISPS Code.
“This time, we are into profiling of everyone that comes into the port. We are talking about security in the 21st Century, not those rules of the thumb in place before. About 75 per cent of ISPS Code emphasises access control because ISPS Code believes if you have a watertight compartment access control, your facility is safe.
“The threat will come through the access – either vehicular or pedestrian. If there is a check on who comes in and who does not, you are making your facility safe.”
According to Uche, the N10,000 card issuance fee is reasonable and less than cost of production, just as “each agency is entitled to seven of the cards. It is not just because of the monetary aspect but for profiling. Once you obtain the card, you don’t pay again. You only renew every year.”