By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Shippers Council has raised an alarm that despite it’s efforts at ensuring efficiency at Nigerian ports, the absence of a Single Window platform has continued to rob the country of the gains of the port reform exercise carried out in year 2006.
Executive Secretary of the Council, Barr Hassan Bello stated this yesterday at the 20th year celebration of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos.
Bello who was represented at the event by Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Mrs Celine Ifeora lamented that cargo dwell time at Nigerian ports have risen to 22-days while ships turn around time has increased to 8-days.
He said that this is a shame because Cotonou, Nigeria’s neighboring port experienced reduction in cargo dwell time from 14 days to 7 days after implementation of the single window platform.
“Today in our port, you will find out that although the ports have been concessioned in order to ensure low cost of doing business, but we are still having so many problems, we want to bring in efficiency but efficiency is running away from us”
“Most of the cargoes that come into our country today still undergo physical examination, even the scanners that we have, most of them are not working, cargo dwell time is still going up”
“The last time we went for monitoring, we found out that cargo dwell time is between 20-22 days, meanwhile in Cotonou it is just 7days, some countries have 3days”
“The turn around time of vessels at our ports is equally going high, at some of the terminals we visited, it took them 8days, something that we achieved two months back by bringing it down to 2 days, now it has gone up again” he said
Bello also observed that nearly all the countries in West Africa have put in place the single window platform except Nigeria which is supposed to be the giant of Africa.
While analysing the gains of Single window, he said the platform eradicates all manual processes that brings about delays and corruption.
“We don’t want people at the port to have human contact, they can stay at the comfort of their office and transact any business”
“Not long ago, I was in Cotonou where PMAWCA (Port Management Association of West and Central Africa)had a program about single window, you won’t believe that Cotonou for example told us that when they put the single window in place, their revenue increased by 38% which is quite high.
Secondly, their cargo dwell time reduced from 14 days to 7 days, we need to join people who are doing the right thing in order for us to be competitive”
Also speaking at the function, Founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam recounted how NAGAFF was established to break the corrupt practices at Nigerian ports, increase compliance and ensure that practitioners do not cheat federal government of needed revenue.
He said that one of the greatest achievements of NAGAFF is the establishment of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) a baby of NAGAFF.
Aniebonam however lamented that today, the federal government is trying to hijack the CRFFN by tagging it as an agency of government.
He said that when the idea of CRFFN was conceived by NAGAFF, it was meant to be a platform where freight forwarders speak with one voice.
“The CRFFN is not an agency of the government, the matter is already at the Appeal Court, but we shall pursue the true interpretation of the CRFFN upto the supreme court”
“What I charge all of you is to abide with the law, never go against the law, but be fearless. You will attain the greatness you desire”
“NAGAFF members trained so far are more daring and determined, i want to enjoin all of you to go back and read, acquire skills and knowledge, this is the yardstick for concluding the movement ahead of us”
” You are at liberty to upgrade yourself, because soonest, diploma degree will be the minimum qualifications for practice as a Freight Forwarder” he said