- Nigerian Seaports Can Operate for 24 Hours
Stakeholders in the maritime sector, including government agents, regulatory bodies and operators, have discussed ways of achieving 24-hour port operations as directed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in his Executive Orders.
Speaking during a town hall meeting on 24-hour port operations in Lagos on Tuesday, the stakeholders noted that the mandate was achieved at the Apapa Port, the same could be replicated in every other seaport across the country.
In order to achieve the mandate, the stakeholders examined first the impediments to 24-hour port operations and how to remove them.
The Nigeria Customs Service stressed the need to streamline the current export and import guidelines to ensure greater service delivery.
This was contained in a presentation by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
He equally stated that advanced cargo manifest must be submitted within seven days before the arrival of the vessel bringing the cargo to the nation’s seaports.
In a paper presented on his behalf by the Customs Area Controller, Ports and Terminal Multiservices Command, Comptroller Aremu Modupeola, Ali noted that what would impede the attainment of 24-hour operations at the seaports was the integrity and compliance of the trading public where proper documentation and honest declaration were concerned.
According to the Customs boss, the service has moved from manual long room procedures to the Automated System for Customs Documentation++ (ASYCUDA) platform.
The ASYCUDA is a computerised customs management system, which covers most foreign trade procedures. The system handles manifests and customs declarations, accounting procedures, transit and suspense procedures.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, said that government agents at the seaports needed to work together and complement each other instead of competing with one another.
Bello, who was represented by the Principal Operations Officer, Commercial Shipping Department, NSC, Mrs. Juliana Saka, stated that the Standard Operating Procedures launched recently by the council was a guide to all port users, adding that the portal would be integrated with the Customs system.
He stated that the port economic regulator should be allowed to act independently from any market interest in developing rules if the 24-hour port operations were to be achieved.
Bello called for urgent look at the challenges of faulty scanners at the ports.
He said that the Federal ministries of Transportation and Power, Works and Housing should expedite action in fixing the deplorable roads leading to the ports, and integrate the rail to the ports for multimodal connectivity in order to ease the movement of cargo in and out of the ports.
According to him, 24-hour power supply to the ports for efficiency and adequate security should be provided for users of port services and all stakeholders especially at night.
He said, “Government agencies at the seaports must ensure that manifest is uploaded at the last port before the arrival of the vessel to Nigerian ports. Government should equip the ports with high tech-equipment and modern infrastructure in order for containers to be scanned during the discharge process.
“The NSC is currently championing the establishment of the inland container depots. These will assist in ensuring that the seaports maintain their status as transit points.”