Shippers’ Council urges NIS to be guided by port manual

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Thursday called on the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Seaports/Marine Command to adhere to rules in the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM).

The Executive Secretary of Council,  Mr Emmanuel Jime, made the call during a meeting between the the council and NIS in Lagos.

”Because of the important assignment the two sister government agencies have in common, it is necessary for them to be frank with each other and believe in their observations.

”When observation is taken on board, it will enable them to forge a better understanding of the roles that they play and how interconnected the roles will be.

“The NPPM is an area that we need to zero in on, advise and observe as there are couple of things the immigration service needs to put in place to have seamless operations in the port.

“There is a full chapter in the manual that is dedicated to the immigration service, and that clearly is a pointer to how central your role is as far as implementation of the manual is concerned.

“In the port manual, the role of the immigration is to ensure that when a vessel sails into Nigerian waters, the personnel have the valid document that allows them to enter Nigerian territory, the same way with other ports like the airports,” he said.

Jime said that personnel of the service and those of the Nigeria Customs Service were supposed to jointly board vessels, while the maximum number of officers to board a vessel  was three.

“As regards boarding vessels, there is an information you need to take note of, for sometimes, officers of immigration come in late, making it impossible for the joint boarding, and this is a constraint.

“We do not know the reasons, but I just want to flag this out for your attention,” he said.

The shippers’ council boss said that on the port manual, the timeline for boarding of vessels was pegged at 30 minutes.

”This should be noted, because the manual has allowed the task team put in place to enforce compliance.

“Also, no officer is allowed to take souvenir while on board a vessel,” Jime said.

On the mode of transmission of documents between immigration and shipping lines, he noted that this was done manually.

” This is being done in an age where automation is paramount, while the system of operation was routed some centuries behind.

“I believe the facility for automation is there, it is just a question of how is it being deployed so that operations are not done manually.

” This is because it engenders a lot of delay that is completely unnecessary.

“As a regulator we are concerned, because the implication of the delay is that the cost of doing business is impacted negatively,” he said.

Earlier, the Comptroller Abdulkadir Garo,  of the NIS Seaports/Marine Command, noted that the service was aware of NSC’s coordinating role as a lead agency in the implementation of the NPPM.

This, Garo noted, was a fallout of the Executive Order on ease of doing business in the country.

Garo promised to ensure that the complementary role of facilitating trade without compromising national security between the council and immigration was maintained.

”If in the course of the council conducting their monitoring or sting operations, they observe any unwholesome practice involving any of the personnel, they should not hesitate to tell us.

“We will sanction the affected officer accordingly,” he said.

Garo said that shipping companies were at the centre of their relationship with the council and their activities could not be left unchecked, as this could either make or mar the nation’s security.

“As a member of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the Nigeria Immigration Service remains committed to the fight against unethical conduct among players in the industry, including our personnel.

“For the above reason, we have emplaced internal mechanisms to forestall the possibility of such retrogressive conduct among our personnel.

“The Service, through the Lagos Seaports/Marine command, will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that our maritime frontiers remain safe for businesses to thrive.

“Accordingly, I solicit the council’s continued cooperation in the area of information sharing to enable us achieve this objective,” he said.(NAN)