Derek Horsefield (GMT, Shipping)
So far, in the Nigerian Maritime Industry, the biggest thing to affect Lagos ports is the congestion and change of Customs Comptroller General by Mr. President. Also there is the attack in the Delta region and of course, the riot at ENL Consortium, and arrival of new cranes to some terminals by terminal operators like APMT and finally the existence of new Inland Container Depots (ICDS).
Bayo Akomolafe (Compass Newspaper)
There is improvement in maritime business in Nigeria, especially in port operations. The government has realized the need to move the sector forward leading to the policy of 48hours cargo clearance although it has not being implemented fully. The port is becoming a hub to West and Central African sub region.
The early part of the year also witnessed crisis between dockworkers and terminal operators leading to disruption of business. However, the later part of the year witnessed peaceful and conducive port environment and there was no crisis at the last quarter of the year.
There is improvement in the area of port operation; despite these improvements, the port still witnessed some obstacles such as port congestion in both bonded terminals and main terminals in the port. While other obstacles include: the delay at the ports due to failure to comply with the ASYCUDA++ by some Shipping companies.
Finally, smuggling is still flourishing both at the ports and border stations because of the dearth of experience customs personnel; an example is the marine command of Nigeria Customs Service that has been paralyzed due to lack of equipment to fight smuggling activities.
Chief Achike Molukwu (Vice Chairman, ANCLA Tin Can)
The year 2008, has been impressive, concerning customs procedures and freight forwarding practice. With the introduction of ASYCUDA++ which facilitated clearing of goods within five days compared to what it was before with the conventional system.
Introduction of Destination Inspection has lifted professionalism amongst customs and the freight forwarders in general. The birth of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding practice also gave freight forwarders upliftment, and we are happy and fully ready to pledge our support to make sure the council grows from strength to strength.
Finally, management has seen professionalism in customs administration, the Comptroller General of Customs should not relent. We also congratulate Sir Ernest Elochukwu who stepped aside as president of ANCLA recently, we appreciate and wish him well even as we pledge to support the chairman board of trustees until another election is held.
Tunde Owati (Clearing Agent)
Generally, there has been an improvement in the activities at the ports; the number of ships that are coming in has been on the increase. But in most cases, there are some problems at the point of delivery due to the fact that most terminal operators lack the needed equipment to enhance quick delivery. Most of the plant operators are not well trained and it slows down process of delivery at the ports.
However, there are few of the terminal operators who have performed averagely like PTML. Other areas that need to be improved upon are the issues of bonded terminals, their charges are just too high, most of them don’t have equipment at all and this calls for a lot of concern. With the advent of e- payment system at the Customs CPC, it has become much easier to transact business with customs.
Oladipo Bolade (PRO, ANCLA Tincan) no
There has been tremendous improvement in customs activities at the ports since the commencement of the 48hours clearance, and the arrival of the new Comptroller General and the e- payment scheme there is a lot of improvement and it has facilitated trade.
The present dispensation manifest is taking to customs electronically and it has aided the SGD.The shipping company with the introduction of levies which makes clearance from their company more expensive than what it was last year, and it brings a lot of bottle neck into the shipping sector.
In summary, there are improvements in place compared to the days of NPA, goods are now more secured compared to before due to measures put in place by the terminal operators on safety of cargoes. If the areas where problems are encountered are looked into, there won’t be cause for alarm, and we can then be rest assured of final improvement.
Capt. Jon Jon Peters (Terminal Manager, Five Star Logistics)
Cargo traffic has really increased so far, but delivery has reduced, may be due to customs, bad roads or clearing agents etc. Delivery of cargo has reduced due to public holidays both the past ones and the forth coming.
Every terminal is congested we are looking at delay up to two weeks if not more which is bad and it is also bad for Nigerian economy witnessing such, because it won’t encourage shipping companies to patronize Nigeria due to demurrages paid on their ships.
The most prominent factor is the road leading to the ports (access roads), something needs to be done, it causes accidents, loss of lives and properties as well as delay in cargo delivery, it needs urgent attention.
Customs should get serious about the 48 hours cargo clearance process, because it will help, while the issue of multiple agencies in the ports is looked into.
On a positive note, NPA is really good, the new NPA Managing Director and the port Manager here at Tin Can are very approachable.
Mr. Oliver Omajuwa (Public Affairs Dept. Ports & Cargo)
The maritime industry has been a lot better, we have done fine except for the congestion that is being experienced towards the last quarter of the year. Of course, we know that the industry is multifaceted so there is still need for improvement, there is no point in comparing ourselves with other developed countries of the world and we need to put in more efforts.
One of the problems that the industry has is that we do not have direct control, especially over these foreign shipping companies. So in the year 2009, the government should support indigenous operators, also the Cabotage law should be looked into, amended and ensure that it works.
Mr. Sampson Chima (Registrar, NIS)
Well, my summation of the maritime industry for 2008 is that: we are moving forward despite the ups and downs, there has been a lot of progress and improvement compared to previous years, but we still need to work harder.
There are issues to look at, like: the 48- hour cargo clearance; so far it is still work in progress, because it’s not working yet. Congestion is still there in the ports, we still experience it and there might be problems if something is not done.
There are lots of work to be done in the coming 2009 and government should try and concentrate on training and manpower development. Nigeria is still using native intelligence, we need to embrace technology and also know that if there is no qualified manpower there is no way the industry will move forward.