…As It Prepares to Meet , NPA, Customs, NEPC , others on March 24
By Shola Fadeyi
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has put machinery in motion to reduce to seven days , this year , the existing about 20 days cargo dwell time at the Nigerian seaports , review downwards the cost of doing business as well as increase the efficiency of the ports to make them to be more competitive.
The need to achieve this has made the Council to schedule,for March 24, 2020, a meeting with its strategic Partners in the Seaports sector , a follow up to a similar one it had in January 24, with major stakeholders in the maritime and allied industry, to seek solutions to the gridlock on the Lagos Seaports Access Roads.
The Executive Secretary/ CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Comrade Hassan Bello , who made this revelation in an exclusive interview with the Marine and economy Online said that the agencies and other bodies that will be part of the meeting include the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Customs Service (NSC)
Others according to him, are the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) , the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) , Shipping Companies , Terminal Operators among others.
He disclosed that participants at the meeting are to proffer solutions to issues bothering on the processes ,efficiency ,reduction of cost of doing business at the ports , how automation , trade facilitation as well as the Federal Government Ease of Doing Business would be achieved and how other challenges facing the smooth operations of the ports and fast cargo dwell time would become realisable.
According to the Shippers’ Council’s boss, the meeting will also discuss , ways to further ease the gridlock on theLagos Ports Access Roads ,its effects on the ports, solution to the issue of empty containers and overtime cargoes that have taken up most of the terminals and how to maximize the use of barges to convey goods through the waters.
Bello said that the progress of the ongoing 24 hours operations at the ports will also be reviewed, with a view to making it work better adding that the need to improve on the current cargo dwell time at the seaports this year is part of the focus of the Council this year.
He stated that the Federal Government had to put in place the Presidential Task Team on the Restoration of Law and Order (PTT-RLO) on the Lagos Ports Acess Roads, because of its realization of the crucial role which smooth vehicular traffic plays on the effective and efficient working of the Ports and the fast clearing of goods.
Bello informed that while the Team has put in place various measures to checkmate the gridlock on the Ports Access Roads, other reforms that have been enunciated by government , namely the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Oshodi – Mile 2 – Tin Can Apapa Express way and the linking of the Rail to the Ports would further assist in checkmating the gridlock and impact on goods clearing at the ports , when the projects connected with them , are completed.
According to him, the Shippers’ Council is also intensifying efforts with the Customs to ensure that scanners are deployed into the goods clearing system at the Ports this year , to facilitate examination of containers , instead of the manual process that is presently ongoing, while the terminal operators are to continue to improve on their acquisition of cargo handling equipment and delivery process.
He said the Council this year is interested in seeing the commencement of the single window project , which process is expected to start with the linakage of other seaport stakeholders to the Customs E –platform , adding that it is one of the ways to achieve trade facilitation, quick exit of goods out of the seaports and invariably impact positivel on the dwell time of goods.
Bello said the Council will also intensify efforts at sensitizing stakeholders on the need to always comply with trade regulations , be sincere in their dealings with the Customs , while payig duty on their goods and cease to abandon their goods at the Ports to fast track cargo dwell time.