By DAPO OLAWUNI
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified absence of National Single Window platform, absence of scanning machines for customs operations as well as poor logistics and road infrastructures as the bane of Nigerian Ports.
IMF Mission Chief and Senior Resident, Representative for Nigeria African Department, Mr Amine Mati stated this on Saturday when he took a tour of Nigerian ports as part of compilation and publication of the IMF Economic Outlook Review for 2020.
The IMF team were hosted by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barrister Hassan Bello. They took a tour of three Nigerian ports; APM Terminals, Greedview Development Terminal (GDNL) owned vy Dangote Operations and PTML Terminal.
Speaking at the end of the tour, Mr Amine Mati disclosed that the delegation from IMF were on the visit to inspect the port activities and determine the challenges, the priorities and policies put in place by the federal government.
He said “We were able to discuss the port congestion and noted that the clearance time still remains challenging, we are trying to determine the different policies and priorities put in place, particularly the scanners, national single window is very important to accelerate the process, the roads outside the port is also important for efficiency increase”
“As trade is picking up, the port is an important aspect of Nigerian economy, particularly in Lagos where the activity is”
“The Nigerian port is challenging as the stakeholders and agencies are recognizing, some of the challenges remains the logistics, the scanners, the single window clearance process, all needs to be accelerated so that goods can be discharged quickly”
“This is part of our field visit, we carry out annual check up of the economy to determine the performance and challenges, we are also meeting with the government, private sectors and so on. Our report would be published after March 30th” he said
Speaking earlier, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Bar Hassan Bello said the IMF Economic Outlook review is very important to Nigeria, especially now that the country is facing economic challenges for diversification of source of revenue.
Bello described Nigerian ports as major port in North and Central African subregion and it is the largest economy in Africa. He said Nigerian Ports attracts 40-60% of all the cargo in the sub region.
He however lamented that twelve years after the ports were concessioned to private operators, there is still lack efficiency at the ports.
Bello assured that the Shippers Council is however working with the shipping companies to reduce the cost to about 30% and that both parties will soon go into an agreement.
He said that for now, there is 100% cargo examination going on at the ports due to lack of scanners in the ports. He however assured that by second quarter of the year all these challenges would be addressed.
“We are trying to build first of all, a Port Community System so that we will have operational synergy and then of course National Single Window which is the simplification of all processes, we need to be open and transparent, we have to reduce the corruption at the ports and we need to automate the ports for faster clearance of cargoes”
“What we are doing now is about 18-20days cargo dwell time, we want to reduce it to 7. The ship turn around time also is 4.1, we want to reduce it further, we want to attract more cargoes here, not only for imports but also for exports and that is the whole issue”
“As we move to the ports, you will see that we lack efficiency at the ports. The ports are private sector driven, haven been concessioned about 12years back to the private sector, because we believe that the private sector should lead. However there are logistics problems, one of which is infrastructure”
“The roads in and out of the port is a challenge and the government is now working, constructing all the roads leading to the ports. Besides, the government is also going to introduce rail services into the ports, because the problems has been that we are using one mode of transportation, the ports have been stretched beyond their capacity”
“They are handling more cargoes than their intended capacity, so we have short term, medium and long term solutions for the ports”