By Bayo Bernard
Several months after the passage of the Executive Order On the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF said the policy has failed to improve efficiency in ports operations. The Ease of Doing Business policy was signed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on May 14, 2017
But almost a year after the federal government passed the policy which it said will change the way government business are conducted , NAGAFF said it’s worried the policy has failed to address the problems plaguing ports efficiency.
For instance, the policy seeks to address the high cost of doing business in the ports, caused by inefficiency and slow manner in which export and imports documents are processed. The only way to address this, the government said is to create a single interface for all the government agencies and parastatals working in the ports to fast-track cargo clearance.
There are more than 10 government agencies involved in cargo examinations in the ports. They include, NAFDAC, Nigeria Customs Service, Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, Department of State Services, DSS etc.
“All agencies currently physically present in Nigerians ports have been directed to harmonize their operations into one single interface station in one location in the ports and implement by a single joint task force at all times.
“The Apapa Port shall resume 24-hour operations within 3o days from today and each port in Nigeria shall assign an existing export terminal to be dedicated to the exportation of agriculture produce within 30 days of this Order in order to jumpstart our international trade and economic activity,” the policy said.
But the Founder of NAGAFF, Boniface Aniebonam said the policy still remains the thespian paper tiger because things still remains the same at the ports almost one year after. Aniebonam disclose this in Lagos while featuring in the weekly roundtable organized by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN. He said the position of NAGAFF is that the policy has yet to address the problems.
The freight forwarder blamed various government agencies working in the ports for the failure so far recorded by the policy, noting that the policy was made by the federal government to correct the ills of extant laws that concerns ports operations.
“You know the position of NAGAFF on that policy, our position is very clear. When you come up with this policy of the Ease of doing Business that means you have identified that things are not working well. In other words, that means the laws are not being obeyed. What gives you a good society , is to the extent that laws are being obeyed and respected, where it’s not it’s enforced.”
He said the reason why the policy is not working is because of the refusal of those that are supposed to implement the policy to change the way they have been doing things.
If the existing laws have failed to address the problems, the government must expand its capacity to enforce its policies. The manner things are done in the past, he stated, led to “system collapse” and the reason for the government of raising the bar again with the law of Ease of Doing Business. And what are those obstacles, the human elements.”
He said the malaise of corruption must be first dealt with, as well as the need to change the orientation of Nigerians for the policy to work.
“People must begin to build their integrity and obey the law, and knock out corruption effectively, ditto for the leadership,” he said.