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Port reforms: Committee, stakeholders seek system automation, improved human capacity


Full
automation and improved human capacity were on Wednesday identified as key
areas to be integrated for reforms of the Nigeria’s ports.

This was
arrived at during a joint stakeholders’ meeting with a sub-committee on port
reforms under the National Economic Management.
Head of the
committee, Mr Gabriel Ajuda, said the system would only function effectively
with competent people across the sub-sectors of the maritime industry.
“You realise
that it is not enough to just put reforms in place, you must be able to match
man and machine  for us to achieve what
we are looking for at the port. “What we are here to do is to look at that role
that man plays, with the automation in place.
On the way
forward to attain an effective port system, Ajuda called for a reverse penalty
system to make people pay and take responsibility for causing delays, which are
detrimental to business growth.
He said this
cuts across the need for call-up system for trucks in order to avoid congestion
and the use of the port access roads as parking lots.
Mrs Dabney
Shall-Homa, Director, Commercial Shipping Services of the Nigerian Shippers’
Council(NSC) who acted as a moderator in the committee, said automation of the
port system was paramount for a new port order.
Shall-Homa
noted that the port system was operating on a half-baked technology that had
refused to integrate into a prevailing and more robust platform.
She said
that by 2015 when international trade begins to operate on a fully-automated
system, countries that failed to key into the single window system would have
difficulties in the flow.
“We need
flexible technology to drive the system; the infrastructure on which the
technology will actually function, and competent people who are the operators
of the technology.
“We do not
need those who do not understand the industry, but they must understand the input
of what they are doing and the relevance of the maritime industry economically
to national development,” she said.
Representing
the shipping companies, Mr Okorie Obioma, called for a revival of the rail
system to attain a new port order.
According to
him “If the rail systems become very functional, the pressure on the roads will
be reduced and the port access roads will be free of congestion.”
Mr Daniel
Odibe, representing logistics service providers, said it was important to
revive the call-up system for trucks to avoid indiscriminate parking of trucks
along the port corridors.
He said this
was one major cause of congestion as the act usually blocked the port corridor
access.
Rev. Nicodemus
Odolo, representing the Shippers Association of Lagos State, blamed terminal
operators for receiving more cargo than they could handle, bearing the
machinery they have on ground to work.
 “The terminal operators cause delays to
position containers for examination because they lack enough equipment for the
jobs they take.
“They should
consider having an equipment-leasing system where they can have a pool for
infrastructure development to boost their service,” he said.
Odolo said
agents must consult with shippers before embarking on strike as every action
had a way of affecting businesses.
He also
faulted some security agencies for allegedly allowing drivers to shunt the
queues to get into the ports after collecting money from them.
The
committee called on all key stakeholders to play their roles adequately to
improve services at the nation’s ports.

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