The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), has commenced arrangements with other stakeholders to ensure effective configuration of Nigerian seaports for export activities.
The seaports have, hitherto, been given little or no consideration for export facilitation, since Nigeria is mainly import-dependent.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, at a meeting with the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (NACCIMA), in Lagos, said export promotion currently suffers setback at the ports, hence the need for export promotion that would aid the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government.
Bello said what is necessary now is for the nation’s ports to be configured for exports adding that this is already being discussed at the Presidency.
For instance, he said that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not pleased with the report that 2,000 containers for exports were stranded at the ports because of certification, adding that Osibanjo had instructed the supervising ministries to address the issue.
“Time has come for Nigeria to be fully geared towards export and not rely on oil. We need to have a simplified export procedure. We need to encourage export from the bank up to the port. We are talking to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council on export facilitation and I must say we really need to collaborate,” he said.
Bello further said the NSC is working on the dedication of some terminals for exports, access to finance, infrastructure and many other things that would aid export.
He assured that the Council would continue to support the aspirations of the organised private sector by providing the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“We are targeting the processes of cargo clearance at the port. We need to make it technologically-driven, transparent and conserve time, so that dwelling time of cargo will be appreciable and comparable to international or at least regional standards,” he said.
President, NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, called on the Federal Government to replace obsolete policies in the maritime sector.
She also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill converting the Shippers’ Council to the National Transport Commission (NTC), to help create an effective transportation industry.
She decried the lack of automation of port processes, and the multiplicity of agencies at the nation’s port, many of which she noted do not have any business being there.
She also expressed concern over the perennial traffic gridlock on the port access roads; a situation she said has further heightened slow cargo clearance at the port and affecting export activities as much as its affects imports.
Lawson, who insisted that the important role of the maritime industry in the nation’s economy cannot be overemphasized, urged the Council to push for more reforms to make the port more efficient.
“We are partners in progress. So, we have to work together to revive our economy when it comes to shipping in Nigeria. We have obsolete policies including high number of government agencies still operating at the port. We have insufficient use of technology for cargo automation leading to high human interface and lack of enforcement of the single window payment system, which they are using in Ghana today. We need to push for more reforms in the sector. We need to work to create an enabling business environment at the port and we are open for such collaboration with the council.”