REPS THREATEN TO SANCTION CONCESSIONAIRES
Port concessionaires, especially those at the Apapa Port, have been chided for not embarking on enough investments at the port which is part of the concession agreement. Subsequently, the House has threatened to query them for not doing what they should do in line with the contract agreement signed with the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) that had concessioned the port some years ago to them.
Abdulahi Umar Faruk, chairman, House Committee on Customs and Excise who dropped this hint at the Apapa Customs Command when he and members of his committee came on oversight visit to the Command, saying the committee would do everything possible to protect the interest of Nigerians.
According to him, information available to them indicated that the concessionaires had not invested much at the ports while they were being charged abysmally.
'There are areas the House Committee would have to come in; we should invite the BPE to give us some explanations on certain issues concerning the concession. We observed that there was rush to sign the concession simply because people had said they are investors,' he stated.
The chairman promised to take immediate action to avoid Nigeria as being ripped off at the country's seaports.
In an answer to a question, Farouk explained that the House intended to amend some sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) to let it be in line with international standard.
He said some of the laws were colonial and were no more necessary in the present dispensation. He said, however, that the committee would want to see things for themselves before embarking on any amendment.
He also spoke about the Port and Harbour Bill which is before the House explaining that when they are through with the Bill, government agencies at the ports would come to explain to the House the need for their continuous presence at the seaports.
Earlier in an address, the Customs Area Comptroller, Azarema Abdulkarem had told the House Committee members that the command had collected a total of N81 billion instead of N108 billion between January and May this year, according to the revenue projection.
He explained that the shortfall was as a result of the economic meltdown and the recent crisis embarked upon by the freight forwarders due to inadequate cargo handling equipment by one of the major concessionaires.
Azarema disclosed that the minister of transport had directed that vessels be diverted to other ports which made them lose revenue.
He also blamed a frontline concessionaire of not stemming containers to the Bonded Terminals under Apapa Command.
On challenges, the CAC complained of lack of government warehouse at Apapa as the ones available had been destroyed as a result of the concessioning, which forced the command to transfer all overtime and seized goods to Ikorodu Lighter Terminal Command.