By Kenneth Jukpor
In a bid to make Nigerian ports more competitive, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has targeted a reduction of charges collected by shipping companies by thirty percent.
The Executive Secretary of Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello said this while receiving a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the weekend.
Bello assured that the Council had started talks with shipping companies in the country in order to reach an agreement to reduce the cost of their services.
He also said that the IMF Economic Outlook review is very important to Nigeria, especially now that the country is facing economic challenges for diversification of source of revenue.
Bello described Nigerian ports as major ports in West and Central African subregion as the nation had the largest economy in Africa and Nigerian ports attracts 40-60% of all the cargoes in the sub-region.
However, he lamented that twelve years after the seaports in Nigeria were concessioned to private operators there is still lack efficiency at the ports.
His words: “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”
Speaking on the logistics problems, Bello added; “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”
Meanwhile, the IMF team identified absence of National Single Window platform, absence of scanning machines for customs operations as well as poor logistics and road infrastructures as the bane of Nigerian ports.
IMF Mission Chief and Senior Resident, Representative for Nigeria African Department, Mr Amine Mati stated this when he took a tour of Nigerian ports as part of compilation and publication of the IMF Economic Outlook Review for 2020.
The IMF team was led by the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello on a tour of the Lagos ports; APM Terminals, Greedview Development Terminal (GDNL) owned by Dangote Operations and Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) Terminal.
Speaking at the end of the tour, Mr Amine Mati disclosed that the delegation from IMF were on the visit to inspect the port activities and determine the challenges, the priorities and policies put in place by the federal government.
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 recognizing, some of the challenges remains 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 check up of the economy to determine the performance and challenges, we are also meeting with the government, private sectors and so on. Our report would be published after March 30th” he added.