To reduce the turn-around time of vessels at the nation’s seaport, the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council and other government agencies at the sector have agreed to collaborate for simultaneous joint vessel inspection in less than 30 minutes.
The exercise, sponsored by NPA, has other agencies like Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service and Port Health, Department of State Services, who have pledged their support for the initiative.
Under this arrangement, which is one of the results of the recently launched Nigerian Port Process Manual, all agencies involved in inspecting ships will go onboard together to carry out their respective inspections as contained in their establishing acts.
Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, while presiding over a meeting of the agencies on Thursday, noted joint boarding of vessels as international best practice.
According to him, the European Union and the entire global shipping community have complained incessantly about the delay at Nigerian ports, which have economic consequences on the nation.
His words, “Shipping is time-bound and we face serious competition from other ports in the region. Why should Nigeria have 22 days ship turn-around time when our neighbours achieve it in seven days?
“I am happy with the collaboration and commitment of all the government agencies, and this development, coupled with the impending disappearance of traffic gridlock, would see shipping play its significant role in Nigeria’s economic development.”
Bello lamented that Nigeria ranked 149 of 180 countries on global corruption index, but expressed optimism that the joint boarding of vessels would eliminate corruption during ship inspection.
Also speaking, the General Manager, Public Private Partnerships, Mrs. Eniola Williams, who represented NPA Managing Director, said there would be sanctions for agencies that fail to comply with the new Standard Operating Procedures for inspecting vessels and the entire NPPM.
“Each agency has its law with sanctions for offenders, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, at the launch of NPPM, emphasised the need to invoke sanctions. This is what we are going to do because NPPM is empowered statutorily and with directives,” he added.
Noting that NPA desires to have the leading ports in Africa, she posited, “In attaining that, we need to ensure that our processes are timely, efficient and free from corruption. NPA is taking this very seriously and we are working with other agencies. On the issue of joint boarding, this refers to people who represent Nigeria on-board ships from other nations.
“The people who come in via these ships are making first contact with Nigeria through that joint inspection and it’s good we display integrity and take it seriously.”