The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that the newly introduced on-line real time payment system at the nation’s seaport will, in addition to blocking possible revenue leakages, reduce the waiting time of ships that call at the ports thereby crashing cost of doing business.
The new electronic payment system developed by Interswitch enables stakeholders and other port users to pay for shipping charges, levies and even fines online real time either from the comfort of their offices or at any branch of banks operating in the country, which eliminates the delays awaiting for payments to clear before services could be rendered to the stakeholder.
Under the current arrangement, using the Interswitch platform, any payment for shipping services for any of the nation’s seaports is transmitted immediately to the Chief Port Accountant, who also immediately alerts the Port Manager for the service to be discharged unlike the former situation whereby the ports wait for two to three days for confirmation from the headquarters in Lagos before services were rendered.
Managing of Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, who spoke at a one-day sensitization for the new payment system, said that the current management had been worried over the poor payment system at the ports, which he said does not reflect current realities in the global shipping business.
He said acknowledges the challenges faced by its customers and other stakeholders in making payments for business dealings, adding that the management had been inundated with complaints of delays in confirming payments, which lead to vessel delays and other harrowing experiences.
He said: “We have therefore responded with a solution that guarantees multiple payment cannels and reduces reconciliation challenges to the barest minimum”.
The NPA chief executive said that on assumption of office, the management began to seek ways of improving the revenue of the authority without compromising efficiency and to provide comfort to its customers, a development that was informed by the realization that there is a direct correlation between the levels of revenue collected and her capacity to provide infrastructural facilities.
“The management therefore unveiled the following broad initiatives to deliver our vision for the overall transformation of the Nigerian port industry,” Abdullahi said.
Giving a background to the introduction of the scheme, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of NPA and the initiator of the scheme, Mr. Olumide Oduntan disclosed that the current NPA management on assumption of office identified the three pillars that are critical to transformation of port operations as human resources, technology and process.
He added that before now, when payment is made it takes between three to four days for it to be confirmed because it has to be taken to the headquarters by customers and the headquarters will now send it through courier to the ports. The new system he said will eliminate that process as payments will now be confirmed as soon as it is made on same day.
Stakeholders at the launching described the system as a landmark for port operations and commended the management of NPA for evolving the system that is designed to deepen port reforms.
Highlight of the occasion was stimulation and demonstration of the process by shipping agents, the port managers and their accountants and officials of Interswitch Nigeria Limited.