The Ports & Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML), a concessionaire in Nigerian port, invested hundreds of millions of Naira seven years back, to develop a state-of-the-art access control and operational management system in its terminal.
As one of the largest RoRo terminals in West Africa, the company, which has it location in the Tin-Can Island Port, developed the system to profile port users and facilitate trade in its terminal, which handles a large chunk of cars that come into Nigerian seaports.
The investment was to enable the terminal deliver on its obligation of ensuring a secure and safe business environment in line with the provisions of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS).
Also, the system was aimed at controlling the flow of persons into the terminal through designated access points, by enabling scanning of cards to gain access. It also ensures that only authorised persons can transit through the restricted areas in the terminal in adherence to all relevant Nigerian regulations and in line with the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CIMA).
Confirming this, the Lagos Maritime Security Zone of the Port Facility Security Officers (PFSO), said that the issuance of port access cards by PTML terminal, was in line with the provisions of the ISPS Code.
Ignatius Uche, chairman of the forum, who spoke against the back drop of the recent threat of showdown by freight forwarders under the aegis of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), over the electronic access control cards, said that the ISPS Code provides that no facility should allow unauthorised persons access into its premises without profiling.
He accused the agents of sycophancy and trying to cause trouble. “Agents, who are against this, are those who want the port terminals to be like the old ports where people can even sleep inside the terminal. This time, we profile everyone that comes into the port for security reasons.
Uche said the fee of N10, 000 for issuance of the card is reasonable as the amount was not up to the overhead cost of producing the card and each agency is entitled to seven of the cards.
Also, Steve Oko, Admin manager of PTML, said during an interactive session with BusinessDay in Lagos that the access control and identification management system became very critical to PTML because of the peculiarity of its business, which attracts huge number of touts claiming to be clearing agents and freight forwarders.
“They constitute serious security threat to all governmental authorities, staff and other legitimate players working in the port.
Reacting to the accusation that PTML initiated the access control to make money from freight agents, Oko said: “The fee of N10,000 is charge for the first time an agency is registering with us and it entitles it to register seven persons. We do not register an individual rather we register a corporate entity like a clearing and forwarding agency.”
Continuing, he said: “This is a card that has several security chips in it and the production of the cards cost well over N7,000 per one, but we give seven of it for just N10,000. Our staffs also have their own access card and when they carelessly misplace it, the person will pay for it to be reissued to avoid misuse.
“By using our biometric access card, the whole process of cargo release is facilitated and secured such that a registered Customs agency does not have to present scores of documents to take delivery of consignment from our port. Rather, once an agency is registered with us and presents a Bill of Lading, he or she will not provide any other document or ID to do business with us,” Oko explained.
Oko further said that the biometric card is a one-stop-shop that gives the port user access to transact business with the terminal without delay. “As access is granted, it immediately hit both delivery and release sections to confirm that the person is a genuine agent from the agency that owns the cargo. This is why our delivery process is usually very quick.”
The requirements for issuance of the card include a valid Customs accreditation, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) document, letter of introduction from the bank, evidence of existing addresses, valid NCS Form C30 and N10,000 for first time registration. This means that upon renewal of the access card, it is issued for free and it is renewed every year as the agency renews its Customs license and Form C30.