Nigerian Ports Need Single Window To Compete Favourably---NPA MD

L-R: Former Head of State, Gen Abdusalam Abubakar, President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Managing Director of NPA; Hadiza Bala Usman at the First African Conference of International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) which was hosted by Nigeria in Abuja last week

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA); Hadiza Bala Usman has raised alarm that the absence of Single Window in the process of cargo clearance and delivery is part of the reasons Nigerian seaports can not compete favourably with ports of neighbouring countries.

She told delegates at the First African Conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) which held last week in Abuja, that the simple fact that Nigeria does not have Single Window is affecting the performance of her ports. 

Perhaps, in a veiled reference to the recent World Bank rating of Nigeria among the 15 lowest-performing countries in the world, as regards the efficiency of its cargo clearance and delivery, the NPA boss \ acknowledged that “until we (Nigeria) have a Single Window, Nigeria’s ranking will continue to be low”. 

The damning ranking is contained in a World Bank ‘Connecting to Compete Report 2018’ on trade logistics in the global economy, which evaluated the logistic performance of 160 countries, using data gathered through a worldwide survey of logistics professionals on how easy or difficult they experienced trade logistics along six generic dimensions. 

The dimensions according to the global bank are: customs efficiency and border management clearance, quality of trade and transport-related infrastructure; ease of arranging competitively priced international shipments; competence and quality of logistics services; ability to track and trace consignments; and the frequency with which shipments reach consignees within the scheduled time. Nigeria took the 110th position out of the 160 countries, making it one of the bottom 50 performers in the world. 

According to the report, Nigeria has a level of logistics constraints typical of low- and middle-income countries. 

In terms of customs efficiency, Nigeria emerged 147th, in logistics infrastructure, she came 78th, in international shipments, she got 110th,  in logistics competence, she emerged  112th, while in tracking, tracing  and timeliness, she emerged  92nd. 

Nigeria’s close neighbours and competitors in port operations are: Benin Republic, Togo, and Ghana.  

In the World Bank rating for West African, Cote d'Ivoire clinched the top position as the best-performing country in trade logistics with a global ranking of 50. Benin Republic was next at 76th position; Ghana, 106th; Nigeria, 110th; Togo, 118th; Gambia, 127th; Liberia, 143; and Sierra Leone, 156th. 

But last week in Abuja, the Managing Director of the NPA insisted that,  to escape the  abysmal World Bank ranking, Nigeria requires a Single Window system of cargo clearance and delivery, even as she knocked the current system being operated independently by respective government agencies. 

Currently, the three major agencies relevant to cargo delivery and clearance, namely: NPA, Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Shippers’ Council have variances of applications or systems akin to Single Window. 

Without mentioning any agency, she added that, “we need to agree on who does what”. She also noted that the ports could not do well and cargo could not be efficiently cleared and delivered without scanners. 

According to her, the absence of scanners is partly responsible for congestion in the ports. 

The NPA boss however acknowledged that port concession has been a huge success, even as she added that about 9000 workers, representing about 75% of total workforce  of the NPA were relieved of their appointments. About 13,000 dockworkers were also sacked. 

She added that for this to be accomplished, a whopping US$400Million was expended on severance benefits to both NPA workers and dockworkers. 

Having successfully concessioned the port for about 12 years, Hadiza added that the next phase is for strategic decision on the future of NPA as a Landlord Port. 

She also harped on the need to review port concession agreement, which according her would be completed by December 2018.