Nigeria anti-corruption project improves port calls

"The lessons learnt here and the toolkit we have developed can also be applied globally to combat corruption in other hot-spot locations.”

A Nigeria maritime anti-corruption project produced positive outcomes.  The project aimed for the elimination of demands for in-kinds payments, harassment, or the threat of illicit delays. Importantly, close cooperation between private maritime sector and authorities was key to success.

Nigeria is one of the most challenging countries to do business in with unlawful demands commonplace. Certainly, for the shipping industry there are numerous steps in the vessel clearance process which lead to inefficient operations and increase the opportunity for illegitimate demands in ports.
As an example, an analysis carried out by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network and United Nations Development Programme concluded that it can take more than 140 signatures to get a vessel or cargo cleared by the local authorities.

Zero-tolerance approach

Maria Skipper Schwenn, executive director, Danish Shipping, said: “Unlawful demands put a huge risk on vessel crew and shipping companies. Cases of extortion, harassment and threats of violence are, unfortunately, not uncommon.
“Danish Shipping has a zero-tolerance approach towards bribery, and we are very pleased that the anti-corruption efforts have been fruitful. Danish operated vessels call at Nigerian ports nearly 600 times a year so the financial value of fair and smooth port calls is enormous.
“It is of upmost importance for the shipping sector that trade and port calls are free from any illicit demands that cause iniquitous delays and stressful situations for the crew.”

Improvements in port processes

The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network has been active in Nigeria for a number of years.  Thus it is able to push for improvements in ports processes.
With funding from several donors, the network has developed tools to improve the port environment.  Moreover, there was an integrity training kit for port officials.
A recent survey of shipping companies calling at ports in Nigeria has demonstrated the project had a positive effect.
Shipping companies have periodically achieved a zero-tolerance approach to corrupt demands without threats or delays in Nigeria.

Push for positive change

Cecilia Müller Torbrand, director of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network said: “Through collective action, and the support of our donors we have been able to push for change in an environment no one believed we could.
She said that work in Nigeria is not finalized and they must still ensure the tools and procedures are both used by the shipping industry and implemented in the ports.
“Together with the Nigerian authorities and our local partner we have built a solid platform. We are eager to continue to push for a positive change in Nigeria.
“The lessons learnt here and the toolkit we have developed can also be applied globally to combat corruption in other hot-spot locations.”
To date, the project has supported the implementation of harmonized operational procedures in ports.  It has also established a grievance mechanism process.  Moreover, it has carried out integrity training for 1,000 stakeholders in Nigeria together with Martine Anti-Corruption Networks local partner.
Danish Shipping was responsible for the contact with donors and the financial governance. Danida, the Danish Maritime Fund, Orient Foundation and Lauritzen Foundation funded the project.

  • Shipping companies operate globally.  Therefore, they frequently come across corruption in different parts of the world.
  • In the Gulf of Guinea, there are 10 to 35 Danish-operated vessels at any given time.
  • Corruption adds 10 percent to the cost of doing business globally.  It is fundamentally detrimental to economic development, according to the World Bank.

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