Hassan Bello urges CBN to give maritime industry special status as next cash cow for government
Barr. Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) made the call while on a tour of terminals and shipping companies for assessment to compliance on automation of their services.
Hassan and his management team who visited Ports and Cargo Handling Company, Ports and Terminal Multipurpose Services (PTML), and CMA CGM shipping agency, decried the bad state of the port access roads, thereby calling on the government to treat the road as sacred.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria which has been working and making intercession or intervention should also look at the port system and intervene which is very important.
“The Central Bank should focus on the maritime industry. We are pleading with Central Bank to look at that.
“Our exports, for example, are going on smoothly and now, access to the port is difficult and some of our terminals are not configured for export because we have been importing things for a very long time and we have become the import-dependent economy.
“We cannot be the import-dependent economy, we need to export and the Central Bank has put the basic things; the portal, the processes, they are doing well on that but we need a special focus.
Speaking further, Bello reiterated the need for synchronization of government agencies for efficiency in the port, saying it would minimise the problems in the port.
According to him, the success of the synergy and automation of the port hinges on access to the port.
“That’s why we have the port community system. This is a system that is going to be driven by the Nigerian Ports Authority and all of us being partners. It is important we know what all of us are doing and make it transparent.
“So, if we have that including payment, participation of financial institutions including freight forwarders, the terminals themselves, the shipping companies, government agencies as decreed by the government earlier we will have less problem
“But all these hinge on access to the ports, the government should provide the access roads. Government should treat repairs and the building of new roads to the port as something sacred.
“Unless we do this and there is means through which goods are delivered and evacuated from the ports, we still have the same problems. The government has to provide a conducive atmosphere for port operations”
On the challenges of achieving 24 hours port operations, the NSC boss stated that “On the banking issue, there is also the issue of security and the problem of all the government agencies having staff to be deployed for 24 hours and the shippers and their agents themselves.
“But if we have a digital port, it makes things easier. Nobody needs to come but the port will be operating 24 hours”
Asked about the recent move by a terminal to review terminal charges, he said that the Council was not aversed to any tariff review as long as it is justifiable.
He added that before such review can take place, it has to be communicated to the Council who will, in turn, engage stakeholders before it can be ratified.
“I have said it that Nigerian Shippers’ Council is never aversed to review of terminal or local shipping charges but the only thing is that it has to be justified.
“All charges must be tied to the service that providers are providing to our Shippers and the processes because we have laws that guide tariff and we want the terminals to go through the process and write to us after which we consult with the stakeholders,” he said.
The Managing Director of Ports and Cargo Handling Services (PCHS), John Jenkins stated some of the challenges the terminal is facing that hamper its efficiency
According to Jenkins, lack of scanners leads to the inability to carry out examinations in many containers which leads to block-stacking of containers.
He added that the terminal had not reviewed its charges in the last nine years whereas the cost of things has gone high. He disclosed that the terminal had to increase the tariff to be able to meet up its obligations.
On his part, Ascanio Russo, the Managing Director of Ports and Terminal Multipurpose Services Limited (PTML) and Grimaldi Agencies, Nigeria enthused that the facility has automated almost all its processes, saying the only agencies that still make the terminal do manual processes are Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigeria Customs Service.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved so far and we are also happy that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has identified that our terminal and shipping agency is the most advanced in terms of digitisation in the industry
“I am happy that he brought up this issue because before, there was no digitisation and this is what we have invested in the last ten years probably, and I am happy he is pushing the issue on the agenda.
Speaking further, Russo stated that insecurity is the bane of achieving 24- hour port operations in Nigeria.
He explained that insecurity makes clearing agents not to come for clearing at night even as he said that the insecurity must be nipped to be able to achieve round-the-clock port operations.
“The clearing agents and Customs officers are not feeling safe and we cannot blame them. The area where we operate can be volatile and no one wants to stay late in the night when they know that when they leave, they may be attacked by armed robbers or any other threat may arise.”
Exclusive! Hope rises on take-off of proposed $3bn Badagry Deep Seaport as NPA, APMT resume discussion
The approval was finalised following a presentation by the Federal Ministry of Transportation at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) during the last administration of President Mohammed Buhari.
According to officials, the port is expected to generate $53.6 billion in revenue over the 45 years concession period.
The proposed site of the project is located 55km west of Apapa and the port of Lagos, along the 55km long Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which is being upgraded from a four-lane to a ten-lane expressway.
The port is expected to have an annual throughput capacity of 1.8 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).
The proposal for the project was announced in 2012. Feasibility studies have been completed and construction works are yet to start.
The project will be implemented in four phases, with the overall project cost estimated to range between $2 billion and $3 billion.
Also, it is expected that the new port will primarily ease pressure on the existing ports of Lagos, Apapa and Tin-Can Ports, which handle approximately 85 percent of the country’s non-oil throughput.
It will further alleviate the burden on the country’s existing ports, which are on the verge of exceeding their cargo handling capacities, and address the country’s annual container traffic, which is expected to grow to 10 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units by 2030.
Plans for the adjoining Badagry Free Trade Zone will include a power plant, oil refinery, industrial park and warehousing and Inland Container Deport functions.
Jamoh, Bello- Koko, serial award winners, bag National Productivity merit awards
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, is gradually turning into a serial award winner as he has landed yet another plaque of honour from the federal government.
An excited Jamoh expressed appreciation to the Federal Government, noting that it is a call to greater service to our Fatherland.“I am spurred by this award, particularly as it is coming from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, which underscores the ministry’s role in ensuring reward for hard work and productivity in public service”
“Let me also use this opportunity to dedicate the award to the industry’s stakeholders; external and internal, as they have made our work easier as an administration.
“We will continue to strive to make the maritime sector a viable economic driver, especially with the Blue Economy mantra, which is critical to the sustainability of the maritime sector”, Jamoh said.
Commenting the on the selection of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the DG said it is a well-deserved honour, as she has remained a core professional and astute administrator in the coordination of activities in the Ministry and the Agencies under the supervision of the Ministry.
“I am not surprised by her selection, as she is an administrator par excellence and has remained resolute and professional in the discharge of her duties.
”This conferment can only spur me and the entire team at the Nigerian Ports Authority whose commitment to exceptional performance culminated in this recognition, to continue pushing the limit and advancing the frontiers of trade facilitation.
”Imbued with the understanding that excellence is a moving target, I want to seize this moment to assure that we will not rest on our laurels in our resolve to turn our rich maritime potentials into actualities’, an elated Koko declared.
The National Productivity Order of Merit Award was instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to recognize and honour productive individuals and organizations in Nigeria in the year of the award for achievements made in the preceding years.
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