Nigeria Customs mars port automation, says Bello, NSC Executive Secretary

Hassan Bello (second left), Rotimi Amaechi (middle), Hadiza Bala Usman (behind Bello) during a inspection of port access roads in Lagos.

The possibility of Nigeria achieving port automation in June 2021 is hanged in the balance. However, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has blamed the management of the Nigeria Customs Service over this for failing to provide scanners in the ports instead chose to adopt an unproductive 100 percent examination for cargo.

This, Bello said, could mar dream of his body in achieving 90 percent port automation it set.

Bello stated this in Lagos yesterday and expressed delight at the electronic truck call-up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the already commendable automated services of some shipping lines and port terminals.

According to Bello, some shipping lines and terminals in the country would attain a minimum of 90 percent automation by June and the digitalization would help curb delays, boost efficiency and reduce revenue leakages in the port system.

 “We shouldn’t forget that we have competition. Nigeria 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 digitized. Human contact is dangerous; it brings delays and extortion.”

“A port is not a place for contact. We are trying to achieve this 100% automation. To achieve this, we need full integration with banks, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), terminals and shipping lines, among other stakeholders,” said Bello.

He revealed the ratings of shipping lines on automation with Grimaldi ranked highest with 88% compliance, Ocean Network Express with 75%, CMA CGM had 60%; but lamented that some shipping companies had as low as 20% on the automation rating.

For terminals, he commended PTML which scored 92% and BUA which had 75% while encouraging others to up the ante.

He, however, noted that most shipping lines had challenges linked with refunds and claims processing.

Bello said the existing seaports in the country are outdated and harped on the need to have deep seaports while stressing that the economies of scale and modern trends support deep seaports.

“We know that Apapa and Tin Can are tired ports that can’t be dredged further. Ships shouldn’t stay in other nations and transship to Nigeria. It should be the other way round. The development of deep seaports such as Lekki could be a game-changer in that regard.”

He also added that the Council is exploring all alternatives to expedite the development of viable dry ports and truck transit parks across the nation via public-private partnerships (PPP).

“Inland waterways via barges are also an alternative for cargo evacuation. This hasn’t been perfected because there are security, safety and tariff structures that need to be addressed. There is an overall issue of standardization,” he said

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