Story by Dili Utomi.
The Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) has written a letter of petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on issues relating to certain acts of extortion and obtaining by false pretense against the ETO/TPPL inspired call up system by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The body in the petition letter through their counsel listed as part of their grouse amongst others, the arbitrary increase in the reluctantly agreed sum of Ten Thousand Naira (#10,000.00) to the sum of Thirty One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Naira (#31,250.00). This has according to the petition amounted to the estimated sum of Fifteen Billion Naira (#15,000,000,000.00) over time. It also stated that the money is usually paid into the account of the Truck Transit Park Limited(TPPL) which evades payment into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and violates the provision of Sections 80 (1) and 162 (1) of the 1999 Construction of Nigeria.
The various incidents of the extortion of the sum of Five Thousand Naira at each of the various checkpoints is one area that has drawn the ire of the COMTUA and this is included as part of the petition.
Meanwhile, the legal representative to the Association has also been instructed to notify the Nigerian Ports Authority of their desire to pursue legal redress through the Courts. In a pre-action letter, they listed their grievances partly as the arbitrary increase in the charge through the ETO/TPPL application, the delay in assessing the Ports, lack of provision of CCTV cameras at the gate as agreed, the pervasive presence of extortionist checkpoints where monies are collected and that in spite of all the above listed, the payment to ETO/TPPL still goes on. The letter dated the 17th of June 2021 stated that in light of the aforementioned, the Association seeks to pursue justice by asking the Courts to declare that COMTUA is not liable to paying any sum of money to assess the Ports, that no dues will be paid where services are not rendered, that an order of perpetual injunction be granted them to stop the NPA or their cronies from collecting any money from them especially when no services have been rendered, that the already collected amounts of money through ETO/TPPL be declared unconstitutional, an order relieving the TPPL of the responsibility of the coordination of the call up system, that the process of NPA coordinating the activities of trucks into and out of the Ports is ultra vires and an act of perpetual injunction restraining the NPA from exercising the power that it has not been granted by law.
The petition also chided the Nigeria Shipper’s Council for not exercising the power granted it by law as it stated that ” In the performance of the Regulatory roles under Regulation 2 of these Regulations, the Council shall”, a. provide guidelines on tariff setting in order to guard against arbitrariness;
b. monitor and enforce standards of service delivery to ensure availability,
accessibility, affordability, stability, predictability and adequacy of services;
c. encourage competition and guard against the abuse of monopoly and dominant market position;
d. perform mediatory role among stakeholders;
e. establish accessible and modern dispute resolution mechanisms;
f. regulate market entry and exit;
g. promote efficiency in the provision of port services;
h. minimize high cost of doing business and prevent its inflationary effect on the
i. encourage private sector investment in the port sector; and
j. monitor and ensure compliance by all parties with the provisions of Port Concession Agreements.
The Association lamented that they are having issues doing their business and that the NSC should be alive to the responsibilities that it has been saddled with as the Association also listed all the encumbrances that they are confronted with while doing their legitimate duty of moving goods in and out of the Ports.
The petition appeals to the agencies to intervene to save their business and provide the needed conducive environment for it to thrive.
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