FG charged to automate cargo-handling operations for efficiency
The Federal Government has been urged to work with stakeholders to deploy a Customs-driven, port-wide and cloud-based software that will create new operational flows that will eliminate human contacts and expunge all forms of manual processes in cargo handling operations for the nation’s ports to function better.
The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr Vicky Haastrup, gave the charge in her presentation on the impact of automation in cargo handling operation, at the town hall meeting on Achieving Effective Digitalisation in the Nigerian Maritime Sector organised by the League of Maritime Editors in Lagos.
She also charged the government to urgently deploy the National Single Windows and e-Customs to check manual cargo clearing processes and the multiplicity of Customs units deployed around the ports, its gates and the roads to intercept cargoes already cleared from ports.
“For Nigeria to achieve a smart port, government must ensure Customs’ processes are simplified and automated to complement the gains recorded through the Federal Government’s port reforms.
“As operators, we know that automation provides smart solutions for the services that we render. Automation helps us to deliver operational efficiency, improve operational processes, and promote a safer working environment and culture. Technology helps our terminals work better, faster and smarter,” she said.
Haastrup said importers and licensed customs agents resorting to manual processes from the point of cargo examination create a huge dent on the drive for port efficiency and contribute to the continuous high cost of doing business at the ports.
“From the point of 100 per cent physical examination of cargoes, the discretionary powers of Customs officers kick in. Negotiations and underhand dealings inevitably happen due to unbridled human contact. The solution to this major obstacle is to drive the clearing process from end-to-end with digital technology. The human interface and the discretionary powers of officers should be taken out of the mix, ” she added.
Haastrup enjoined the government to take a cue from the concessioning policy to terminal operators, which saw improvement in the state of the ports in terms of security, quay and yard infrastructure, navigation channels, productivity and efficiency.