The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has called for joint collaboration of all relevant agencies and stakeholders to boost port operations in the country.
Mr Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of NSC, made the call while briefing newsmen on implementation of the Nigeria Port Process Manual (NPPM) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The NPPM comprises of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of agencies that operate in the ports.
Bello said: ‘These SOPs are time-sensitive, so each is allocated time of what to do, when and so on.
”Now, if they all come together in tandem and in agreement with what we have done, then the result will be efficient port system.
”Once we have efficient port system, other things will follow. Like reduction in cost of business. We will also be competitive.
”The truth is that the ports, maybe, until recently have been ridden with so much corruption, the apps are not transparent, our ports are manual and we need to do certain things.
”If we are in competition with other ports in West and Central Africa sub region and indeed the world, then we must have a better port.
”This port must be transparent, this port must be efficient and the transactions must be digital.
“We can’t have a contact port all the time. We should have a contactless port, but let every agency do what it is supposed to do at the ports,” Bello said.
According to him, the council does not intend to do the job of other agencies but to ensure everyone does their work in accordance with the SOP it has submitted.
He urged all agencies to come together, collaborate and ensure joint boarding, examinations and clearing of vessels for speedy operations.
”The terminal is not a storage space, it is just a transit place for cargo where it will exit as it is brought in.
”So, we are going to focus on that and help people abide by their standard operating procedure as far as examination and clearance of cargo is concerned.
”These are the two things we are going to focus on and we have started doing that, all we need is cooperation from the relevant agencies,” Bello said.
Also speaking, representative of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr Hamza Gummi, said the way forward to speed up our port processes was elimination of contact to the nearest minimum.
He said:”The E-Custom process has been approved and it will start very soon. Four of the scanners are already on board coming to Nigeria.
”The only solution to all these things is not the standard operating procedure but it is automation. To me, where there is contact there will likely be compromise.”
The Managing Director, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA), Chief George Moghalu, urged all stakeholders to come together to eliminate corruption in the sector and the country at large.
He pledged the authority’s commitment to support the NPPM in every way possible.
Mrs Azuka Ogugua, representing the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission(ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, also pledged the commission’s support to the manual.
”It is not enough to have the manual we need to implement because implementing it will lead to our economy being boosted.
” It will lead to leakages being closed so that we can retain the funds inside the country to enable us boost our economy by attracting trade into the country.
”ICPC is playing a key role in this process. We are very interested in prevention and we have worked with the port agencies to make sure that preventive aspects are put in place.
”We will take any step to ensure people will not come and spoil the progress of the country.
”There will be regular operations in the ports to generate evidence based infractions against the SOP, NPPM and the ease of doing business policy of the Federal government
”The mandate of the team is to carry out quick enforcement actions based on regular intelligence provided by the shippers council .
The conference was attended by various port stakeholders who also pledged their support for the implementation of the NPPM.