Nigeria is losing about N5 trillion annually because of the Federal Government’s neglect of the ports which had been entrusted to foreign operators, who are fronting for some highly placed Nigerians in the name of concessionaires, even as the bad port access is costing Nigeria over N1 billion hourly.
Besides, the deliberate delays, which truckers are being subjected to before they can pick cargos at the terminals, is making importers to lose substantial amount of money as the delays usually lead to increased demurrage for importers to pay for overtime cargo.
Sometimes, it takes about three hours to load cargos unto a truck, as the truckers have to grease the palms of the security personnel before being allowed to enter the terminals.
The nation’s port was concessioned to private operators in May 2006, in what the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo said would lead to efficiency in the ports.
Reacting to this development in Lagos, the Director of Operations of ADLAD Group, Prince Aderemi Olikutuyi, told the Nigerian Pilot Saturday that the ports concessionaires are reaping the of huge sums windfall with the active connivance of fraudulent Nigerians.
Olikutuyi said, “They are using some people to siphon money from Nigeria. The concessioning of the ports was expected to bring succour to the maritime sector but the most unfortunate thing is that the concessioning agreement did not take into consideration some key issues which have placed Nigeria at the disadvantage.”
Further, Olikutuyi, who claimed that the concessionaires always transfer huge sums realised from the country to their countries almost tax free, said the concessionaires do not have necessary and adequate equipment at the terminals, a development that has caused undue delays and added demurrage on cargoes.
Also, he faulted the Obasanjo administration for unilaterally handing over the ports to the concessionaires without any solid agreement on the modality for the infrastructural development of the ports, road maintenance, and remuneration for port workers.
“The magnitude of corrupt going on in the customs is terrible. They sell people’s goods. As I am talking to you now some importers have committed suicide because their goods were confiscated and auctioned to others because they were unable to bribe customs officials.
“But my fear is that those operators who underpay their staff are the same people that are siphoning trillion of naira from our country.
“At the end of the day if these trillions are paid into government coffers, it would assist the government to investment on development projects that will benefit Nigerians.
“Unskilled Indians will come to Nigeria and earn $1,800, while qualified Nigerians are paid less than N100,000 a month,” he said.
He also advised President Muhammadu Buhari to seriously reconsider the concessioning of ports.

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