Nigerian Shippers Council says the country’s quest to have a single window platform, which will enable international traders submit regulatory documents at a single location, thereby reducing delays at the port, has remained elusive.
The Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, said the manual cargo examination by the Nigeria Customs Service, due to lack of functional scanners at the nation’s ports, could mar the realisation of the port automation goal.
Speaking at a media parley in Lagos recently, Bello said it took five hours for Customs to manually examine a container; a situation he said contributed to delays and bred corruption.
“It takes five hours for one container to be cleared. The reason being that there are no scanners and all the containers have to go through physical examination, which is bad because it is time-consuming, laborious and a place for compromise and discretion. But once we have scanners, what you do for five hours will be done in five minutes.
“Since single window has become elusive, so to say, I think we will go through the port community system, and we are going to look at it more,” he stated.
He urged stakeholders not to forget competition, hence the need for improvement.
“Nigerian ports should be the hub in the West and Central Africa region. However, we can’t achieve this without ports that are fully automated and operate 24 hours daily. Most ports across the world are digitised. Human contact is dangerous; it brings delays and extortion.
“A port isn’t a place for contact. We are trying to achieve this 100 per cent automation. To achieve this, we need full integration with banks, NCS, terminals and shipping lines, among other stakeholders,” Bello said.
The NSC boss, who lamented the high level of corruption among government officials that examine cargo and inspect vessels, disclosed that the council recovered a bribe of $14,000 collected by government officials aboard a vessel in Lagos.
“We have made arrests and had money seized from officers on board vessels. We have recovered bribes of $14,000. As the lead agency in the execution of the port process manual, we are working to ensure that all corrupt tendencies are removed,” he added.
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