Govt urged to harmonize policy objectives for effective port automation

Nweke

For an efficient automation process in Nigerian ports as obtains in advanced countries, the federal government has to take urgent steps to harmonize its policy objectives beyond the various Ministry interests represented by its agencies for a common goal.

Former President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke who made this call explained that this was because the automation process in the ports was not centrally driven but one of multiplicity of efforts by different agencies of government.

Nweke described a national automation process as devoid of undue agencies supremacy tussles, but driven purely on national interests.

He argued that there was the need to harmonize what agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA), NAFDAC, SON, among others were doing under a seamless integrated process to arrive at a better result as obtains in other climes.

He said that the current situation was that all the agencies in their different objectives for automation seem to be driven by simply individual core objectives which, according to him, was a negation of the whole essence of national e-commerce networking among shipping companies.

Nweke in an online chat with SHIPPING DAY was of the view that for best results, the evolution of national port automation process should be a core focus of the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC).

He further explained that the reason was, “from all indications, it appears that the Trade Ministry has surrendered it’s administrative obligations to the Transport Ministry, perhaps for policy concerns”.

Arguing that the Presidential Task For on Ease of Doing Business didn’t achieve much in its campaign on account of non seamless integrated process, Nweke said it was imperative to allow
the as NSC as the ports economic regulator to sustain its advocacy in this direction.

Nweke said the Nigeria Customs Service has a near national automated system but limited to trade, a robust interface and interaction capacity as required.

“Same goes with the NPA, NIMASA,etc. All of them seem to be driven by core agency objectives which is a negation to whole essence of National e-commerce networking amongst the port/shipping companies. Ordinarily, one should expect that, this evolution of national port automation process should be a core focus of the Nigeria Shippers Council”, he said. He explained that this was because the Ministry of Trade seems to be far from the global realities.
“From all indications, it appears that the trade ministry has surrendered it’s administrative obligations to the Transport Ministry, perhaps for policy concerns”, he said.

“I must also note that, going by what obtains in any country where National Single Window permeates, by WTO/WCO recommendations, the Customs serves and stands as a lead agency to drive the process. Unfortunately, since emphasis is on seamless trading and trade facilitation and not revenue generation, I doubt if it will be appropriate for the Nigeria Customs to lead, hence, the need to score administrative balance or reconcile the inter play between trade facilitation flexibility and revenue generation rigidity”.

He said an efficient automated port system, is expected to “posses the capacity for unhindered communication via Single Portal which provides for single lodgment process, validation of data, inbuilt security device, prompt business intelligence monitoring and responses, accommodate users templates, minimize efforts for all parties via seamless net-workings”.

Culled from Shipping Day

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