Shippers’ Council assures visiting IMF team of improved services at Nigeria’s ports

    …Says National Single Window to come on stream

File Photo: Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers' Council, Mr. Hassan Bello

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council at the weekend said efforts have been ongoing among concerned agencies of government to ensure improvement of service provision at the nation’s ports.

The Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, stated this on Saturday, while receiving a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), assuring of efforts at improvement in vessel dwell time at the ports.

He also gave assurance that the shippers’ council was working diligently with shipping companies to reduce shipping cost.

He said: "We are trying to build first of all, a Port Community System so that we will have operational synergy and then of course, National Single Window, which is the simplification of all processes, we need to be open and transparent, we have to reduce the corruption at the ports and we need to automate the ports for faster clearance of cargoes.”

“What we are doing now is about 18-20 days cargo dwell time, we want to reduce it to 7. The ship turnaround time also is 4.1, we want to reduce it further, we want to attract more cargoes here, not only for imports but also for exports and that is the whole issue.”

“As we move to the ports, you will see that we lack efficiency at the ports. The ports are private sector driven, haven been concessioned about 12 years back to the private sector, because we believe that the private sector should lead. However there are logistics problems, one of which is infrastructure.”

“The roads in and out of the port is a challenge and the government is now working, constructing all the roads leading to the ports. Besides, the government is also going to introduce rail services into the ports, because the problems has been that we are using one mode of transportation, the ports have been stretched beyond their capacity.

“They are handling more cargoes than their intended capacity, so we have short term, medium and long term solutions for the ports.”

The IMF team led by Mr. Amine Mati toured three terminals in Lagos ports, including APMT, Greenview and PTML where they were taken round the facilities.

Mati, Chief Mission, Senior Representative for Nigeria Africa Department, who spoke to newsmen after the inspection said the team was in the ports to find out the challenges, priorities and necessary policies introduced by the federal government in the area of trade facilitation.

He said:  “We were able to discuss the port congestion and noted that the clearance time still remains challenging, we are trying to determine the different policies and priorities put in place, particularly the scanners, national single window is very important to accelerate the process, the roads outside the port is also important for efficiency increase.

“As trade is picking up, the port is an important aspect of Nigerian economy, particularly in Lagos where the activity is.

“The Nigerian port is challenging as the stakeholders and agencies are recognising, some of the challenges remain the logistics, the scanners, the single window clearance process, all needs to be accelerated so that goods can be discharged quickly.

“This is part of our field visit, we carry out annual checkup of the economy to determine the performance and challenges.”

According to Mati, the team would also be meetings with the government and the private sectors operators, after which it would publish its report after March 30th.