I want to be remembered for transparency, says Usman, NPA DG

Hadiza Bala Usman, director-general of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), says she wants to be remembered for efficiency and the entrenchment of transparency in the authority.

In an interview on Channels Television, Usman spoke of measures the agency had embarked upon to ensure things are done in the appropriate manner.

She said the authority is working hard on putting measures in place that would facilitate its operations and service delivery.

Usman added that the authority employs the help of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) to tackle corrupt practice.

“For every corrupt practice we identify, we forward it to the EFCC for them to investigate and determine what prosecution process we’d embark upon,” Usman said.

‘There have been times when we identified a legal concern on a lack of clarity on the role of government or there is a seeming disadvantage that has been provided to the Nigerian people, we forwarded to the attorney general to provide legal guidance on how we can embark on exiting some of these relationships.

“Many of the corrupt practices that we have identified within the NPA are attributable to certain contractual obligations the NPA entered with entities.

“Just recently, we had a situation where one of our technical partners in our joint venture company was sanctioned at a Swiss court for being said to have bribed officials of the NPA over a period.

“We obtained a Swiss report sanctioning and forwarded it to the EFCC and for them to institute further investigation on the persons and entities that were said to have benefitted from that graft and forwarded it to the attorney-general to guide us on how our continued relationship with these entities in view of the sanctioning it had gotten from the Swiss court corrupt practices to the port’s authority officials.”

She said the authority had implemented the executive order of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the use of single interface to aid cargo clearance.

Usman added that efforts were also being made to introduce the use of scanners instead of manual inspection of cargoes.

On the reconstruction of the Apapa-Wharf road, she said there was the need to provide alternative routes for the transportation of cargoes.

She explained that the use of roads to transport all cargoes is responsible for the gridlocks and bad state of the roads.

She also said alternative routes were being put in place for the period the reconstruction will last.

“One of the things we are putting in place to reduce cargo clearance is the one single interface of the executive order issued by the acting president. It seeks to have all agencies domiciled in one single interface. So, no duplicity of examinations,” Usman said.

“Once you clear that cargo there, no agency is permitted to stop that cargo at any point once it exits the port. We have deployed that from July 18.

“Palliative works are being done on alternative routes that have been identified and are being worked on to ensure the roads are navigable before the road is being shut down.

“The alternative routes are within the locations that would ensure you get to your destination without hindrance.

“Those roads are also not in a good situation. So, they need to be fixed to enable vehicular and cargo evacuation.

“When we have a situation where 90% of cargoes are evacuated through roads, and 70% of cargoes that come to Nigeria come through the Lagos port, and 90% of that 70% is going on the road, the roads will not be able to survive the quantum of cargo that is being evacuated.

“There is also the need for us to have trailer garages for these trailers to park pending when the evacuate with the cargoes, the federal ministry of works has identified several parks that are under construction.

“But you have to understand you cannot have a total evacuation of cargoes by road and expect to see some semblance of sanity in cargo evacuation in those roads.

“The Nigeria customs service and NPA are setting up special vehicle purpose that would deploy scanners. We are seeking to have approval granted by the federal executive council in the next few weeks to approve the special purpose vehicle that would deploy the scanners to our ports location.

“Indeed, the absence of scanners is a big challenge because all cargoes undergo physical examination in our ports. Imagine how inefficient that would be. The deployment of these scanners will facilitate quicker clearance of cargoes.”