Shippers’ Council brainstorms with groups on automation, speedy cargo clearance

Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello has called on port users and service providers to fully embrace automation in their various areas of operation in the clearance process to facilitate trade at the nation’s seaport.

Speaking to newsmen yesterday at the end of a closed door meeting with senior officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, representatives of terminal operators and the two leading freight forwarding associations; Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Bello said automation is imperative if the country must achieve seamless and efficient port system.

While commending Customs for its role in trade facilitation and embracing automation of its operations, Bello said there is need for other stakeholders to also key into full automation.

“The resolutions are on trade facilitation. We need automation in our port instead of doing things manually. We need to streamline these processes and develop standard operating procedures and check the presence of government agencies at the port on what they are doing and the customs to also up their game in automation, they have led the way but we need other stakeholders to come and buy in. So we are doing a lot of consultation while we supervise and moderate.

“Customs has been leading in so many areas of what our ultimate aim is which automation is, providing platforms for cargo clearance so that our port will become efficient. The trade facilitation issue they have pioneered is something very commendable and it is a starting point,” he said.

The NSC boss also reiterated the need to streamline cargo clearance procedures to enhance and make Nigerian ports more competitive with others in the West and Central Africa sub-region.

“Nigerian ports are in competition with other ports within the sub-region so we have to streamline our clearance procedure – the way we do business so that we attract more cargoes to Nigerian ports,” he said.

Bello said some of the resolutions reached at the meeting will be directed to the government for prompt action.

Others issues discussed at the meeting included factors militating against 48-hour cargo clearance, delay in carrying out examination of containers and measures to reduce human contact in the clearing process.

The meeting was attended by Area Controller of Apapa Command, Comptroller Charles Edike, Deputy Comptroller in charge of Administration, Tin Can Island Port Command, Samuel Opelusi and Deputy Comptroller in charge of Administration, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Dangama Lot.

Others are: Chief Commercial Officer, APM Terminals, Neil Fletcher, General Manager, PTML, Tunde Keshiro, President of NAGAFF, Eugene Nweke and a representative of ANLCA, Dayo Azeez among others.