NSC to upscale operational standard at Seaports
THE Nigeria Shippers‘ Council (NSC) has unveiled fresh agenda designed to harness commercial regulations at the nation’s seaports to international standard.
Under the arrangement, the Federal Government is expected to facilitate building of more standard infrastructure, eliminate corrupt practices and ensure the ports work longer opening hours.
According to the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, it is imperative that Nigeria continues to build necessary maritime infrastructure required to handle prospective growth in the sector.
Announcing agenda for 2016, Bello said NSC is working towards removing all practices that cause delay at the ports.
He explained that to adequately reap the benefit inherent in the sector, there is need for the Federal Government to invest more in processes and infrastructure.
Indeed, Bello is calling for the remodeling of the nation’s seaports as part of measures to encourage export.
Bello described the proposed Deep Seaports in some states as a welcome development, “because of its economic benefits”.
He advised landlocked countries to take advantage of existing ports infrastructure in Nigeria to facilitate their international trade.
According to Bello, the NSC is to work more closely with Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among other stakeholders.
Bello said friendly business environment play crucial roles in the development and growth of international trade especially export.
Bello said competitive nature of export trade makes it imperative for Nigeria as a nation to put the necessary infrastructure in place.
He explained that sea trade involves a chain of activities/actors that facilitate the movement of goods in international trade, pointing out that for trade to contribute optimally to economic growth, “attention must be paid to the various aspects of the sector by investing in them for growth”.
He identified the principal links as the Seaport and its infrastructure such as Ship or vessel and the cargo.
Bello, who also spoke at an event in Lagos, recently, said: “In addition to these, there are ancillary activities such as Freight Forwarding, trucking, insurance, banking, cargo surveying, Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) provision, among others”
Bello said: “The Seaport is a vital link leg in the sea trade and needs a focused attention by policy makers. Without the ports, there will be no effective and efficient sea trade.
“To guarantee the sustainable development of the sea ports, infusion of private investments is an imperative.
“However, in order to attract this much needed private investments, conducive climate have to be created.
“Areas in which to create conducive environment in particular is guaranteeing a level playing field, competition among service providers by eliminating monopolies, ensuring quality of service through global best practices as well as fostering transparency and enhancing reduction in cost of doing business.
“This is where economic regulation of the ports becomes an imperative for the development of the nation’s sea trade.
“Mindful of the importance of the seaports, NSC conducted a study on the establishment of a Sea link within the Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ) aimed at:
*Reducing the cost of moving cargo among the countries of the JDZ and increase maritime and trading activities
*Improving frequency of maritime services between Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe, which will ultimately improve commerce in and around the entire Gulf of Guinea.
*Improving private sector initiative through the provision of efficient sea transport services by giving them competitive edge to exporters and importers.
*Reducing transportation costs;
*Eliminating the need for cargo trans-shipment in Europe for Intra-African trade, and
*Increasing trade volume and improve efficiency in transportation in the Sub-region and Boosting economic growth and development for Nigeria.
He explained that a study conducted by NAFITH on the Lagos Logistics Ring (LLR), on the Apapa-Ijora-Orile-Mile 2-Tin Can-Apapa corridor (LLR) shows that:
*On a daily basis, between
5000 to 7000 trucks/tankers traverse the LLR;
*Actual number that the ports and tank farms can accept is between 1500 and 2050 trucks (maximum)
*Gridlock could be eradicated through a proper electronics scheduling of
the maximum truck capacity of 1500 to 2050 trucks that the ports and tank farm can
take on daily basis.
*Successful consultation with and enlisting the support of critical stakeholders and agencies in the sector such as NCS, NPA, SON, NAQC, NIS, etc. to seek their collaboration in the effective discharge of the directive given to NSC as the Interim Economic Regulator for Nigerian Ports.
*Provision of logistic support for Federal Roads Committee on Surveillance Against Road Abuse (FERCSARA) for the management of traffic on the Papa port access road,
*Ongoing efforts, in conjunction with CRFFN, to harmonize the tariff of Freight Forwarders,
*Ongoing design of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for operators and agencies in the port industry to enthrone transparency and efficiency in ports operations
*It is expected that a buy-in of all stakeholders, including government agencies in the port industry, into the regulatory process will on the long run facilitate:
*Linking of the railways to the ports for prompt evacuation of cargo
*Repair of Port Access Roads
*Decongestion of Port Access Roads leading to improved Truck Transit Time at Ports;
*Re-Fleeting of Rickety Trucks;
*Installment of Electronic Gating and Call System;
*Guaranteed Loading Opportunity for Truckers;
*These are issues presently hindering the efficiency of the nation’s seaports.
Meanwhile, a communiqué issued at the end of the maiden edition of International Sea trade and Investment Convention, in Lagos lamented that export tariff within the continent are ambiguous and complex “therefore are not easily understood by exporters”.
Explaining further, the communiqué blamed policy inconsistency and overt dependence on road transportation as major obstacles to export trade in Africa.
It explained that undocumented export trade is the reason for inaccuracy in export data, adding that it adversely affects funding by commercial banks.