The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has said it is targeting 90 percent automation of seaports ports operations by the first quarter of 2021.
The Executive Secretary/CEO of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, stated this when he paid a courtesy call on the management of Media Trust Limited, the publishers of Daily Trust, Kilimanjaro, Aminiya, and other titles.
Bello and his entourage were received by the acting CEO, Media Trust Limited, Malam Nura Daura, along with other management staff.
He said the ports automation, which should be 100% complete soon is part of a series of initiatives to make Nigerian ports efficient and a choice destination for shippers.
“We carried out a study and found out that about 68% of the processes are done electronically. The remaining 42% must also be done electronically. We want that, by the first quarter of 2021, 90 percent of our transactions at the ports are done electronically so we can reduce the human to human contact and reduce corruption,” Bello said.
He reiterated that by the middle of next year, a lot of things would have happened and the Nigerian ports will rank up.
Bello also harped on the need for the federal government to promote value-added commodity export. “We can be an import-dependent economy. We found that Nigeria has 63 commodities of which 22 of them can compete with those of other countries.”
However, he said logistics on getting commodities to ports for shipping was still a problem, along with poor packaging, preservation and standardisation issues.
Bello also said through interagency collaborations, operators are creating intermodal transport means including rail movement of cargoes to decongest Apapa ports and traffic issues.
He also lamented the slow pace of the clearance regime by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). “The Nigeria Customs still carry out 100 percent manual inspection. This is primitive. Perhaps we are the only port in the world doing that. This leaves room for maneuvering and collusion. It takes five hours to clear a container,” he said.
But he noted that NCS will soon launch the e-customs platform, which will make goods clearing a lot faster.
The Shippers Council head also called on the insurance industry to rev up investments in marine insurance as Nigerian shippers are being ripped off by foreign shipping lines.
“Our insurance companies should come to look at our containers regime for example. We spent N17 billion last year on deposit for insurance.”
He explained that taking a container from the shipping companies attracts an insurance deposit and must be returned within four days. “But if Apapa is blocked and you are unable to return it, your money is gone. That is not fair. N17bn could have been used for other investments. But if they pay insurance companies, they will bear the risks and find a way around it.”
He also said the cargo tracking note (cargo information system) which the president has approved will also be a game-changer when deployed.