Speaking in an interview on the challenges in the sector and how it can contribute meaningfully to the economy, Jide Taiwo, the CEO of Ocean and Cargo Limited, a maritime services and logistics firm, said there have been several complaints of inefficiency at the nation’s seaport. He said that while factors that contribute to the inefficiencies at Nigerian seaports are many, the infrastructure is one of them. Presently, the roads into and out of the seaports need to be built and completed.
The situation delays the processes of transporting cleared goods out of the port environment, which causes a lot of delays for imported goods. It makes it difficult for the goods to leave the port and also results in expensive transportation services which, in the long run, put additional costs on the goods. He also says that the industry needs to incorporate full automation of the clearing process at seaports. He says that this will make the clearing system efficient and fast.
Taiwo says there is a need for automation systems.
The maritime officer acknowledges that the industry needs to implement full automation to make the process seamless and easy for everyone. According to him, if the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) introduces a 100-percent automated clearing system, there will be a reduction in the clearing time as well as the crowd and daily traffic and population at the seaport. In the long run, it will have a positive impact on the economy because the percentage of revenue generated from the seaports constitute part of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
If the automation system is properly incorporated, it will as well create job opportunities for the youth who can work from any part of Nigeria to carry out their daily operations. The CEO also talked about the issue of transportation at the port, which is part of the logistics train. He said that these trucks do not have another reason to be parked along the roadsides within the port environment. This causes traffic and sometimes gridlock for people going into and coming out of the port.
“Things will get better with full automation.”
Mr. Taiwo says that once the NPA introduces full automation in the clearing process, things will get better. The trailer park can be in another state and the logistics approval will be given to private companies. When the containers are ready for pickup, importers will contact the transportation company online and send to them necessary documents to pick up the container. This is why the logistics companies have to be registered under the NPA with approval licenses for accountability.
These licenses that will be issued will also generate additional revenue for the NPA as a regulator. It will solve the problem of long queue and trailers parking on the roadside, which are blocking the free flow of movement. Taiwo noted that the present situation has shown that the crowd at the port does not translate to productivity because Nigeria’s port potential is under-utilized. The full automation of the port will infuse all government agencies and shipping companies into a platform that will make the clearing process smooth and less time-consuming.
Abandoned goods should be taken over to solve the problem of dumping.
Mr. Taiwo said that the NPA should sponsor a bill that will make them take over abandoned containers or goods once they are six months old at the port. He said a special three-month additional waiver can serve as time extension when the importer specifically applies for it. The international best practice is for containers to be in use for five to six years and during which they can be refurbished two times before their life spans expire. Most of the containers dumped at Nigerian seaports are expired. Sadly, Nigeria does not have recycling plants to re-manufacture them.
Nigerian Ports Authority: Website