By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Port Community System, a Single Window IT platform being developed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in partnership with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has now reached its second phase and nearing completion and deployment by 2023.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko as he received the IMO Consultants who were in Nigeria on an assessment tour at his office in Marina, Lagos.
The NPA boss subsequently posted on his verified Twitter handle, @mohdbellokoko on Thursday that “Earlier today, in continuation of the Phase II implementation of the Port Community System, I hosted the IMO Consultants who are in the country for a needs assessment.
Digitizing our port processes is at the top of my to-do list”
Speaking during a recent television interview on Arise TV Morning Show, Mohammed Bello-Koko had said the Port Community System is a platform that everyone can plug in to reduce human interference, improve port efficiency and block leakage.
According to him, the IMO has come up with a regulation that stipulates that every port must automate fully by 2025, but the NPA has set 2023 as a target to fully automate the Nigerian ports.
“The Port Community System is not an IT solution that will do away with e-Customs or other platforms every other stakeholder in the port has, rather it will complement them. We got the IMO consultant for the NPA towards the deployment of the port community system. The IMO is funding part of this, and the first phase of the meeting was done virtually. The IMO consultants are in Nigeria and they are currently in Lagos for a 10-day on-the-spot assessment after which they go and come back for the final part,” Bello-Koko said.
He said the final part will be funded by the Nigeria Ports Authority, and that on the return of the IMO consultants, they would be visiting every port in Nigeria.
“The port community system will be a game-changer for us because it will reduce wastage and waiting time of vessels. It is something that has been deployed in other parts of the world but we do not have it in Nigeria. It will also make our port very competitive as well. We will do whatever it takes to make provision for it in our 2022 budget,” he added.
Giving insight on the how far the NPA and IMO have gone with the process, Bello-Koko said the IMO consultants are currently holding meetings in the NPA headquarters, visiting offices of the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and other stakeholders to see the kind of IT deployment these agencies of government and other stakeholders, have.
By so doing, he said, the IMO will be able to develop a port community system that will be robust, all-encompassing and will bring everybody on board.
“Eventually, this may be the foundation that would lead to the setting up of the National Single Window, which is a requirement for a modern port because it enables trade facilitation and ease of doing business,” he added.
On how the NPA is automating its internal processes, Bello-Koko said the Ports Authority, which currently has the Oracle e-business solutions, is on the verge of automating all of its processes.
“We believe that one of the most important things is to deploy IT for our ports to be efficient because it reduces human interference, improves efficiency and blocks leakage. We are about to start harbour automation which is our main function. This will cover the time the vessel comes in from the fairway buoy to the berthing and clearing of the vessel,” he said.
Continuing, the NPA boss said: “Harbour operations will also bring interface between NPA harbour’s department and other users including the towage company and terminal operators. We also have multiple IT tools which we are currently integrating.”