Shippers’ Council seeks ports digitalisation

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Joseph Olaoluwa

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, has called for the digitisation of the Nigerian ports, which he explained would enhance transparency and cut down corruption.

Bello made the call on Thursday during the inauguration of the Joint Boarding of Vessel Committee in the NSC’s board room in Apapa.

The joint boarding team will allow all the port agencies collectively inspect vessels that call at the port instead of having the agencies one at a time.

The team consists of the Nigeria Immigration Service,  Department of State Services, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Nigeria Customs Service and the Port Health Services.

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Bello said, “This will help to improve port efficiency. This joint boarding should be done as fast as possible; it should not be after immigration has gone there, Customs will then follow. It is time-bound.

“The most important thing is for us to digitise the port in order to reduce corruption. I am happy with the co-operation we are getting from freight forwarders and shipping companies as well as the Customs. I see a bright future. The distortions caused by the gridlock will disappear.”

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Bello lamented the spike in haulage which he labelled ‘ridiculous’. He expressed optimism that haulage cost would drop following the linkage of the rail to Apapa ports, as well as barge operations for shippers.

He said the launch of the electronic call-up on Saturday would bring sanity, orderliness and efficiency to the ports though he lamented the 22 days dwell time of cargo before it gets cleared.

He said, “We have 22 days dwell time of cargo: we cannot afford that.  If we get our acts together, we can lower this wait time. We have to eliminate corruption by technology and I am happy we are having a lot of co-operation. Once we have our ports digitalised, we will eradicate corruption.”

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