The Federal Government (FG) is committed to executing reforms in the Nigerian ports systems. To achieve this, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has vowed to tackle vested interests at the ports that, he said, have become major stumbling block to ports reforms. He assured that the FG was committed to executing the reforms in spite of whose interest is impacted.
Amaechi said this on Tuesday during a meeting with stakeholders on the implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) held in Abuja.
The determination to reform the ports and digitalized port processes in Nigeria gave birth to the NPPM, which the Nigerian Shippers Council is the lead implementing agency.
“The process manual is to curb corruption, reduce all the unnecessary charges and improve ease of doing business and that is the task assign to the Nigerian Shippers Council,” he told journalists at the sideline of the event.
“One, the problem we have in the maritime sector is the numerous interests. There are too many interests the government is battling with to see how we can curb it. It’s not like railway whereby the law, the government is in charge. There are private interests we are battling with in the marine and to ensure the public interest overrides. By God’s grace we, will overcome” he assured.
He said the FG is putting in place the processes and manual to indicate who does what and at what point.
On digitalizing of the operations, he said the process must be achieved in the lifetime of this administration.
“We don’t have a choice. Now that the pandemic is here, we will have to digitalised. My only fear is jobs will be lost” he reckoned.
In his comments at the event, the Executive Secretary, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello said the NPPM will help improve ports inefficiencies and reduce corruption drastically.
He noted that the sensitization meeting is aimed at securing the support and collaboration of regulatory agencies, service providers, and users of the port services.
On cargo examination, he said going forward, cargo examination by the Nigerian Customs Service must be done with sophisticated modern scanners to ensure scanning of up to 90 percent of the cargo coming into Nigeria and consider phasing out of physical examination.
He noted that “should there be the need for physical examination, all required agencies must be present at the appointed time failure to which no agency will be allowed to carry out such exercise outside the joint examination.”
On joint ship boarding he said the NPA will coordinate a timely bus-in and bus-out and in line with the compliance of agencies to approved joint boarding procedures.