The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), represented in Nigeria by the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), is set to host a round table session themed, “Towards Standard Operating Procedures That Work in Nigeria’s Sea Ports and Terminals” on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019.

MACN is global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption, enabling fair trade to the benefit of society at large. In collaboration with CBI, MACN broadened its collective action in the fight against corruption under the Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC) mandate.

Giving an insight into its activities in a statement made available to Maritime Bits in Lagos, the organisers said in 2012, the MACN in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Technical Unit on Government and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) commissioned a corruption risk assessment (CRA) in the Nigerian port sector.

According to it, the assessment set out to understand the main drivers of corruption in the sector, identify specific measures for addressing such drivers, and catalyze action among public and private sector stakeholders. The corruption risk assessment report made specific recommendations for action to eliminate corruption in the Nigerian port sector. Amongst the recommendations was a proposal for ethics training and capacity-building programmes to strengthen transparency and accountability of port stakeholders.

Continuing, it said: “As part of its collective action programme, in 2016 MACN contracted the CBI to lead the training of ports officials on professional ethics. Pursuant to this, the CBI conducted a round of ‘Training of Trainers’ in Lagos (Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports), Port Harcourt (Onne and Rivers Port Complex), and Calabar Port between 2016 and May 2017. Thereafter, an end-user training was conducted for over 1000 stakeholders in the ports between November 2017 and March 2018. In August 2019, CBI released its ports user survey report following a customer survey done in December 2018”.

The report addressed the lack of clear procedures and processes backed up by relevant laws (including obsolete laws and procedures) in many areas of port operation including such processes as Temporary Imports, Permanent Imports, Midstream Discharge, Emergency Importations (Hand carry policy); exercise of discretionary powers by Customs officers, port agencies, Terminal Operators, and Stevedoring Companies including the discretionary powers to impose customs duties and tariffs, classification of goods, port charges and the potential disruption of operations of companies that depend on the ports for the importation of critical parts and goods for their operations; and the existence of a system of bottlenecks made possible due to wide discretionary powers of port officials and the likelihood for such powers to be used to create opportunities for graft and extortion of port users.

Others were payments for services not rendered by port agencies including the dredging of waterways by port users, payment to Stevedoring companies without any services being rendered, collection of pilotage fees in areas outside pilotage districts including international waters; lack of awareness of port users on the existence of the port agencies SOP; as well as the absence of complaints/feedback desks/redress mechanisms and the effectiveness of such where available.

According to it, one of the recommendations proposed is the need for experience sharing sessions among Nigerian ports/terminals, customers/users, officials/officers, management, government and their West African/European counterparts, in order to enable the Nigerian groups to learn how to build and deploy integrity, anticorruption governance strategies and build a positive business environment going forward.

It added that the objective of this MACN event is to launch a series of interventions aimed at promoting transparency and the consistent application of SOP leading to more predictable (in time and cost) vessel and cargo clearance at the ports and terminals.

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