The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has directed all terminal operators to set up priority desk to ease the export of cargoes at all seaports in Nigeria.
This move, according to the Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, would help the Authority earn more foreign exchange to finance the national budget.
Stakeholders in the industry had earlier raised an alarm that the nation’s export is almost collapsed due to some factors impeding port operations.
Usman said the NPA has also set up priority window for export, particularly agricultural produce.
She however clamoured for swift implementation of the ease of doing business at seaports, as a way of boosting exports.“There is a need to fast track export cargo. Ease of doing business is important because their is a need to have express documentation before export cargo reaches the ports, as against the practice where the export cargo gets to the port before documentation commences, which sometimes results in the export items getting spoilt,” she said.
Usman cited congestion, lack of truck parks, and lack of multimodal transport, lack of cargo scanners and single window platform as factors hindering smooth operations at the ports.
She said 75 per cent of cargoes currently pass through the roads, which caused the congestion being experienced at Lagos ports. According to her, NPA has made efforts to address these concerns, which include aggressive rail deployment to link Lagos Port Complex and TCIP being championed by the Ministry of Transport.
On the inland waterways, she said NPA has encouraged and licensed operators for the use of barges to move cargoes out of the ports.
“Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with APMT Capital to utilise the use of barges.
“NPA is in discussion with Lagos and Ogun states government to establish truck parks so that e-call up system can be introduced – Orile truck park is being earmarked for this purpose.
“NPA has approved discounts on harbour dues for vessels calling at the Eastern ports. This has resulted in major milestones as recorded by largest container vessels calling at Onne Ports, Liquefied Natural Gas vessels calling at Port Harcourt Ports and flat bottom vessels calling at Calabar ports.
“The concerns related to the use of the ports at the Eastern flanks remains insecurity and lack of connection to the hinterland,” she stated.Usman added that: “inter-agency cooperation is key for all agencies operating at the ports, but unfortunately we have over the years continued to educate the public that as a Port Authority we are not responsible for everything that happens at the ports. The role of NPA remains the provision of habour services, and ensuring safe berthing of vessels; and so issues that have to do with cargo delivery and access roads to the ports fall under the purview of other agencies.
”However the need for all agencies to do their part effectively is important because the KPI of NPA is tied to the effectiveness of other agencies such the Customs and Federal Ministry of Works, among others,” she said.
Usman also stressed that need for the provision of scanners by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to enhance swift examination and clearance of cargoes.
“The single window project need be put in place by the NCS and its supervisory Ministry Of Finance so that manual documentation that has encouraged corruption and human interface can be eradicated,“ she added. She emphasised that the port access roads should be rehabilitated by the Federal Ministry of Works so that cargoes can be evacuated quickly.
She also point out the need for government to encourage local investors, saying: “We are a large country of consumers. We need to increase local production. We need to make domestic investment a priority.
“There is the need to have clarity of deliverables; need to demystify governance. People should be held accountable for actions and inactions, and there is a need to back all talks with action,” she stated.