Shippers’ Council targets 90 % port digitalisation in 2021

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  • Applauds NPA on E-Call-up system

(Report by Udeme Clement):

The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, has declared that the Council is targeting 90 percent level of digitalisation in port operations in the country, in order to enhance efficiency in the system.

He disclosed this while briefing Journalists on NSC activities in the first quarter of 2021 economic year.

According to him, ensuring high level of automation in port operations remains
part of its agenda as ports economic regulator, and it is imperative for the growth of port industry in Nigeria.

The NSC boss emphasised that digitalisation of port operations is the way to go globally; and Nigeria must move in line with the global trend to enhance trade facilitation and make its ports competitive.
“Our target is 90 percent digitalisation in the second quarter, to reduce human contact in cargo clearance. Achieving this will enhance efficiency to address issues of revenue leakages and corruption in the system”, he said.

He stressed : “Most ports across the world are digitalised because human contact brings delay and extortion in the system. We must realise that port is not a place for human contact.

“So, NSC is trying to ensure 100 percent digitalisation of port operations. But we can’t achieve this without ports that are fully automated and operate 24 hours daily.
For us to achieve this, we need full integration with other platforms like Nigeria Customs Service, banks, shipping companies, as well as terminals.”

Bello enthused: “I am glad to inform you about the level of improvement made in the first quarter of 2021. NSC rating on automation shows that terminal operators had improved tremendously. For instance PTML came first with about 92 percent and BUA had 75 percent. Some shipping companies also had high level of automation in the first quarter between 88 percent and 60 percent. Grimaldi shipping came first with 88 percent level of compliance; Ocean Network Express 75 percent and CMA CGM – 60 percent, which is quite commendable.

“However, in the first quarter rating, some shipping companies were still at the level of 20 percent automation.
Notwithstanding, we are optimistic that there will be improvement among all shipping companies in the second phase, especially following integration with other agencies mentioned earlier. Nigerian ports ought to be the hub in West and Central African region, but not the other way around.

“Full automation will fast track cargo clearance from the ports, as Licensed Customs Agents will not have to be at the ports physically to do their business. The Council is going to have a meeting with Customs management for this purpose.

“For us to achieve full digitalisation, we need scanners at the ports. With scanners, containers can be examined within the shortest possible time; but physical examination causes delay, because it takes hours to examine a container.”

Giving details about the condition of existing ports, he explained :
“Apapa and TinCan ports are tired and can not be dredged further. What we have at present are river ports with limited capacity. We need deep seaports like Lekki in Lagos, Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State, and what is being planned in other parts of the country.

“Vessels should not stay in other countries and trans-ship cargo to Nigeria. Instead, It should be the other way round. Development of deep seaports will be a game changer in that aspect. Barge operation is vital in cargo delivery. So, we are looking at ways to improve on security and safety of cargo delivery with barges. The Federal Government is doing a lot by linking the ports with rail. This will make cargo evacuation out of the ports faster and even cheaper.”

Responding to questions on traffic gridlock on ports access roads, he said: “The introduction of electronic call-up system for trucks by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is a good initiative. This will tackle the traffic gridlock around the ports axis.

” All stakeholders should support the Call-up system to achieve intended purpose. I strongly believe that the system will solve the traffic problem on Apapa roads.”

On internal sabotage of the system, he said : “Sabotage is common with every good policy, because some unpatriotic individuals benefitting from it may try to cause confusion in the system. But, the reality is that NPA has the capacity and what it takes to monitor the system effectively.
At this point, let me commend NPA for taking this bold step. It shows that the Authority is committed to sanitising the port industry.”

In the same vein, Mr Moses Fadope, with Shippers’ Council, also the Coordinator of Port Standing Task Force Team on NSC/NPA/ ICPC/DSS, warned saboteurs working against the Call-up System to desist and allow sanity in the port industry, or be ready to face the wrath of the Law.

His words: “We understand everything happening in the ports even at night because we are monitoring the system. We will not hesitate to bring economic saboteurs to book.

” Nigeria belongs to all of us. So, we must work collectively to protect our Port industry and the economy at large.”

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