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Absence of scanners impede ease of doing business -Shittu

Prince Shittu

.Wants an end to 100% examination of cargo

Chidi Ogbuokiri

A former president of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu has said that the continuous delay by the Nigeria Customs Service to procure and install scanners at the ports has negative implications for the Presidential Ease of Doing Business initiative and efforts aimed at improving efficiency port operations.

In this wise, I urge the Nigerian government and appropriate agencies in the maritime sector to follow the footsteps of other countries that have implemented the system successfully to enable swift movement of goods and services.

He said most of the challenges stifling trade facilitation and compounding the cargo clearing process in Nigeria stem from the absence of a National Single Window platform to streamline processes and enhance efficiency.

“It is also appalling that among our neighbours in the West and Central Africa region, Nigeria is one of the few countries that do not operate the platform.

“When Single Window was established at the Cotonou Port, it reduced cargo delivery time from 40days to less than 10days. It increased government revenue by more than 39 per cent. In terms of truck transit down to port they gained 23 per cent of the time.

“Therefore, the implementation of a National Single Window will significantly improve cargo turnaround time at our ports, promote efficiency and transparency, and enhance Nigerian ports’ competitiveness in the West African region,” Shittu stated.

According to him, the 2018 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which revealed that cargo dwell time exceeded 20 days in average for most ports in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, means that the Nigerian seaports inefficient.

He said that will bring an added burden on business when compared to other regions in the world, as businesses relying on timely shipments are less likely to develop in such an environment, saying local importers need to integrate higher storage and inventory costs. “Global best practices ensure that any port that fails to achieve 24-hour operations would lose its international competitiveness and Nigerian ports have already lost a significant portion of the cargoes destined for the region to our neighbours’ more efficient ports.”

He called all government agencies involved in the cargo evacuation process to formulate and implement policies that ensure 24 hour port operation.

“For this to happen, cargo examination which is presently being conducted 100 per cent manually due to non-functional scanners must be automated. I am a strong advocate of allowing the terminal operators to procure and install scanners as they are better suited to ensure the efficient management of the facilities.”

He said all port access roads leading to Nigeria’s busiest ports around the country are in a sorry state, adding that the access roads to Nigerian ports have been overwhelmed by population growth and stagnancy in upgrading port systems, structures, and infrastructure built over two decades ago.

As part of solution, he called for the establishment of an automated Truck Call-Up System and urge the Federal Government to adopt a pragmatic approach to the total implementation of the proposed intermodal transportation system to ease evacuation of cargo from the ports, and also to pay special attention on water cargo transportation by barges.

“I also support efforts by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to develop a partnership with the World Bank aimed at finding a sustainable solution to the persistent traffic caused by bad roads and congestion in Lagos, by introducing a modern traffic management system,” he said

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