The immediate past Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello has said that the digitalization and integration of the country’s nation’s port systems would enhance efficiency as well as reduce cost of operation in the country.
Bello while speaking on the sideline of the reception organised to honour him by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) stated that there is need to build u a port community system that will integrates all the various stakeholders in line with efforts to achieve port efficiency and attainment of a hub status for West and Central African sub-region.
While stressing that the port system is all about efficiency and competitiveness, especially with other seaports within the region, adding that Nigeria’s seaports need to achieve a level of efficiency and competitiveness with their peers within the sub-region through automation and integration of all the systems.
He informed that although stakeholders including shipping companies, terminal operators and even some freight forwarding firms have achieved up to 70per cent or more of automation of their operations, he however lamented that the country currently still carryout 100 percent physical examination of cargo as against the globally accepted practice of scanning of cargoes, while also urging the freight forwarding practitioners to embrace digitalization by carrying out their transactions online as he noted that most of the terminal operators have keyed into automation of their processes.
Speaking also on the ongoing Lekki Deep seaport, the former NSC boss urged the government, to avoid repeating the mistakes of Apapa and Tin can in Lekki by prioritizing rail connectivity for cargo evacuation. He said the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports are already tired, therefore there is need to develop the Lekki deep seaport, which is projected for completion next year to take off the pressure from the two major seaports in Lagos.
On the achievements recorded under his eight-year tenure, which include compelling shipping companies and terminal operators not to hike port charges arbitrarily, ensuring that the ports operate 24-hours as well as promoting the Inland Container Depots ICDs, among several others, Bello said that the past CEOs of the agency laid solid growth foundation which he only built on.
He disclosed that the members of staff of the council, which he described as the best in the industry, were actually responsible for the modest achievements recorded under his eight-year tenure, arguing that it is not all about him, but about the entire staffers of the council.
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According to him “Nigeria’s seaports have attained up to 70 % automation; the level of automation varies with individual stakeholders. But the ports also need a community system that integrates all the various systems to make for seamless port operations. All the revenue leakages we talk about would be addressed as soon as the ports are fully automated and integrated. It would also reduce corruption because there would be very minimal human interface.
“Automation and integration of the systems would enhance efficiency, competitiveness and cost reduction. All the efficient seaports all over the world are fully automated and integrated, which in addition to enhancing competitiveness would drastically reduce the current high cost of operation.
“I have been reading reports about leaving big shoes and I make bold to say that I left no big shoes for my successor. He also parades very intimidating credentials, having been CEO of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority NEPZA, which has a lot to do with exports and so I have no doubt that he would match and even surpass our achievements.
“I also need to put it on record here that the modest achievement we recorded was because of the solid foundation laid by my predecessors, we merely built on this foundation. Similarly, the members of staff of Nigerian Shippers Council are the centre of these modest achievements because it would not have been possible without them, in fact they are the best in the maritime industry”, he said.
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