The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers' Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello, has said that digitisation would ensure efficiency, competitiveness and reduce corruption in the ports.
Bello made this known during a courtesy visit by the management of Clarion, an off dock bonded terminal at the council's office on Monday in Lagos.
The management of Clarion Bonded Terminal which was led by the Vice President, Mrs Ifeoma Eloka and their legal counsel, Mr Emmanuel Osonwa said that the visit was to appreciate the council for the timeline intervention to see to the opening of the terminal sealed by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)
It will be recalled that the terminal was sealed over alleged illegal activities and the terminal not getting approval from customs before operating.
Speaking during the visit, Bello told the management of Clarion Bonded Terminal that as they are back in business, the council's interest was to see that they are efficient and contribute to the system.
He noted that in this present situation of COVID-19, which was a disruption on its own and now closure of terminals will further worsen things, urging the terminal to ensure that things go back to normal.
According to Bello, the council is working towards the port being digitised by March 2021 as currently the port digitisation stood at 65 per cent.
"There are certain transactions, bill of lading and invoicing that is not done online, but we are meeting with the shipping companies, terminal operators and the bank to harmonise the process so that it will be okay and because all these things needs to be integrated"
"Most of the terminal and shipping companies are online, like 85 per cent and we need to make things more efficient and that is why we want to digitise so that one can exit cargo without going to the port"
"Digitisation is also against corruption, if one does not physically interact, you pay electronically and reduce corruption, it will be cheaper, more efficient and we will be more competitive,'' he said.
He pointed out that COVID-19 presented a very dangerous situation in the port, showing lapses that needed to check, adding that scanning containers was less dangerous than 100 per cent inspection.
He added that COVID-19 had disrupted the logistics chain which led to people abandoning their cargo in the port, also stressing that terminals are not storing area as spaces they occupy leads to congestion.
"We are working to ensure that goods are cleared, because lack of space at the port is very dangerous, it signals congestion, both at the sea side and on the land side"
"There are a lot of cargoes that are abandoned and they need to be auctioned off and we are suggesting to custom to do on the spot auction without even taking them off because some of the goods are expired goods sometimes"
"So, the need to help the terminal to clear the goods so that ships can have better time, now 50-days’ time in economic is inefficient,'' he said.
The council boss said that to contribute to port efficiency, they are introducing three mode of transportation, the barges, road and the rail.
He noted that when the ongoing construction was completed, the Creek road, Liverpool, and the Mile2 Tincan which was the major corridor, congestion would disappear.
He said that the country exporting was now or never, stating that they had made it possible for containers that are for export to be able to access the terminal and be taken away.
"It is not a simple thing because this also needs strategy so we have to streamline the export processes and we want government to make the inland dry ports to be centres,'' he said.
In her response, the Vice President of the bonded terminal, Eloka appreciated the executive secretary for his timely intervention, adding that the loss incurred due to the closure of terminal cannot be quantified.
She also appreciated the custom management for their intervention in ensuring that the terminal was opened for business, adding that they would go back to delivering their services appropriately.