The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Wednesday threatened to shut down ports not complying with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
The Director-General of the agency, Mr Ziakede Akpobolokemi, made the threat at a one-day seminar held in Lagos by the Shippers’ Association Lagos State.
The Shippers’ Association Lagos State organised the seminar in collaboration with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
The seminar had the theme: “Working Toward a New Port Order’’.
The director-general, who was represented by a director of NIMASA, Mr Ibrahim Jibril, however, noted that many Nigerian major ports had complied with the ISPS Code.
He urged the participants to look into the issue of accessibility of ports’ roads.
“This forum should take a close look at the ports’ access roads because the roads have done lots of damage.
“I believe that with the efforts of the NPA and the Nigerian Railway Corporation on the inter-modal plan, a lot will be achieved, ‘’ he said.
In his address, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, said that necessary legal framework must be put in place for the council to maximise its capacity as the ports economic regulator.
Bello said that the regulator must continue to work with the stakeholders to achieve the desired transformation of the industry.
“Upon appointment as ports economic regulator, the council held series of consultations with stakeholders including shipping companies and government agencies.
“The council must continue to work with them to identify problems and areas which must be prioritised to facilitate the transformation of our ports in accordance with global standards,’’ he said.
Bello said that automation, fair price system, timely and amicable dispute settlement and access roads would improve the port system.
He said that such a system would eliminate corruption and reduce the problem of demurrage and human traffic at the ports.
Mr Charles Edike, the Comptroller in charge of the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said that the service had been supporting port improvements through dynamic operations.
He said that his command had so far transferred 40,000 containers to other ports to avoid congestion at one point while other places had less to handle.
“We have transferred about 40,000 containers to other places for the purpose of avoiding tension and allowing other areas to work.
“This strategy is to facilitate trade and boost the shipper’s business,’’ he said.
Retired Major Henry Ajetumobi, the Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, urged cost operation reduction, enhanced security, sustained competitiveness, among other measures for an improved port system.
The President of the Shippers’ Association Lagos State, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said that achieving the new port order would involve improvement in ports’ access roads, building of truck terminuses and 48-hour cargo clearance, among other measures.
Nicol said that automation of the nation’s ports would make shippers happier.
He suggested that truck terminuses should be built 100 metres away from ports, adding that trucks should enter the ports only when requested for.
Nicol said, “ A systematic and well-computerised method of monitoring the gateway to the ports by sophisticated security outfits should be done.’’
The shipper also suggested that customs’ queries should be minimised to avoid allowing a cargo to remain indefinitely at ports.
“Raw materials for industries should be cleared without queries, while priority should be given to export commodities,’’ he urged.