The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Thursday listed impediments that should be tackled to achieve 24-hour efficient port operation.
The President of NAGAFF, Mr Increase Uche, said in Lagos that if the impediments would be tackled in time, Nigerian ports would be smarter and more competitive.
Recall that heads of government agencies in the maritime sector recently met and discussed the workability of 24-hour port services to tackle congestion and impact more on the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Federal Government.
But, the NAGAFF President said: “The ideal port operation all over the world is that the port should work for 24 hours daily, but unfortunately on our own side here, we have not been able to achieve that”.
He said it was necessary for government agencies to come together to have a work plan on how to develop the port sector.
“Now, they have seen the importance of collaboration and partnership; it is a good development.
“We really need to make the port competitive, we need to create smart ports after this pandemic.
“We must look at how far we have been able to re-engineer the ports; operating 24 hours will be of tremendous help in achieving it,” he said.
According to Uche, the agencies would not have any problem with 24-hour port operation if they could put things in the right perspective.
He listed some of the impediments to tackle as power outage, incessant server failure and poor road network.
He added that illuminating the entire port area and terminals should be done by the Nigerian Ports Authority.
He said that adequate security should be provided especially at night for cargoes, truck drivers and others.
“The police need to be on ground fully to secure the port area against activities of criminals.
“Adequate security is needed not only in the port areas, but also along the Lagos corridor, linking Lagos to the hinterlands,”he said.
He added that there should be modalities to be put in place by banks for easy payment of charges.
Uche called for synergy among the players in the industry for unhindered flow of cargo documentation.
He pointed out that a single window which would go a long way in facilitating the implementation of the 24-hour port operation and facilitate cargo clearance would be necessary.
“Port infrastructure should be looked into; intermodal connectivity – rail, waterways and land – to ensure that cargoes meant to be moved by barges do so, likewise rail and road.
“Once we develop the port at this level, we can apportion cargo in what is called cargo split.
“When a vessel lands in port and cargoes being discharged, we will know those that will go by barges, rail and road.
“Once that is done, we are reducing the inventory in the port terminal and there will not be overstaying of cargoes any more inside the port area,” he said.
The NAGAFF president said that with 24-hour operation, there should be a plan for evacuation of empty containers.
He added that cargo handling equipment must be sufficient in port terminals.