By DAPO OLAWUNI
After the intervention of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Bar Hassan Bello, the Nigeria Customs Service has reopened Clarion Bonded Terminal at Kirikiri area of Lagos which was shut down recently over some controversies within two commands of the service.
Chairman of Clarion Bonded Terminal, Mrs Bernadine Eloka confirmed this when she and her management team paid a visit to the Shippers Council on Monday.
She appreciated the executive secretary for the timely intervention in the closure of the terminal by Customs recently, adding that the loss incurred due to the closure of terminal could not be quantified.
She also thanked the Customs management for their intervention in ensuring that the terminal was opened for business, saying that they would go back to delivering their services appropriately.
Eloka noted that 100 per cent of all the transfers they did were through barges, connecting from Mile-2 to the terminal.
“Within six months, we have been able to evacuate up to 4,000 containers with the model we had instituted,” she said.
She assured that the management of the Bonded Terminal has granted customers four days waiver to ensure evacuation of their containers from the terminal.
Executive Secretary of Shippers Council, Barr Hassan Bello has however said that digitisation will ensure efficiency, competitiveness and reduce corruption at thr seaports.
Bello said the council is working toward the ports being digitised by March 2021.
Bello said:”Currently, the port digitisation stands at 65 per cent. There are certain transactions – bill of lading and invoicing that are not done online.
”We are meeting with shipping companies, terminal operators and the banks to harmonise the process so that it will be okay and because all these things need to be integrated.
“Most terminal and shipping companies are online, like 85 per cent and we need to make things more efficient.
”That is why we want to digitise so that one can exit cargo without going to the port.
“Digitisation is also against corruption. If one does not physically interact, you pay electronically and reduce corruption, it will be cheaper, more efficient and we will be more competitive,” he said.
The NSC boss further said that the council’s interest was to ensure the terminal was efficient and contribute to the system.
He advised the management of the terminal to ensure that business returned to normal, noting that coronavirus was already a disruption.
According to him, COVID-19 presented a dangerous situation in the ports, saying that scanning containers was less dangerous than 100 per cent inspection.
He said that COVID-19 had disrupted the logistics chain which led to people abandoning their cargo in the port.
Bello said that terminals were not storing areas as spaces occupied by cargo led to congestion.
“We are working to ensure that goods are cleared because lack of space at the ports is very dangerous. It signals congestion, both at the seaside and on the land side.
“There are lots of cargo that are abandoned and need to be auctioned. We suggest to Customs to do on-the-spot auction without even taking them off because some of the goods are expired.
“So, there is need to help the terminal operators clear the goods so that ships can have better turnaround time; now 50 days which economically is inefficient,” Bello said.
He said that to contribute to port efficiency, the council was introducing three modes of transportation- the barges, roads and the rail.
Bello noted that by the time the ongoing construction is done, the Creek road, Liverpool and the Mile2 Tin -Can which was the major corridor, congestion would disappear.
He explained that there was also the need for electronic call-up system and was happy that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was making much effort on this.
”No matter the present infrastructure, if there is no modern tracking system, it will be the same because everyone wants to go in at the same time to pick his cargo.
“It is not a simple thing because this also needs strategy so we have to streamline the export processes and we want government to make the inland dry ports to be centre,” he said.