Quest to digitalise operations at Nigerian ports heightens
The nation’s quest to reposition Nigerian ports for modern equipment and technology appears so close to reality, as major stakeholders, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) project a brighter future for the industry.
The stakeholders, who gathered at the Executive Business Networking Lunch seminar on improving port operational efficiency organized by the Nigeria International Maritime Ports and Terminal Conference and Exhibition (NIMPORT) in Lagos, agreed that the application of modern technology in cargo handling equipment is very important as it determines the operational effectiveness at the quay and in the sheds.
The Chairman, NIMPORT, Fortune Idu, said the efficient port operations is required to foster development, just as quality port equipment helps to accelerate cargo facilitation and reduce overall time losses.
He noted that, “addressing the issue of substandard equipment and facilities will directly address the problems for the port efficiency and in particular help reduce economic losses at the port and logistics corridors due to broken down trucks, lifters and forklifts among others,”
The guest speaker, Head Transport and Policy, School of Transport, Lagos State University, Iyiola Oni, said considering the current economic crisis, Nigerian ports needed to adapt efficiently in order to meet the ever changing and developing needs of the industry.
Noting that equipment is a sensitive item in port operations, Oni said it is estimated that about 35 per cent of port’s capital budget is spent on procurement and maintenance of cargo handling equipment.
Giving reference to some policies of NPA on trade facilitation (TFC), Information Communication Technology (ICT) and e-payment platforms among others, he said the technologies must be integrated with current operational and information structures and systems at ports terminals.
Oni also recommended that terminals must be continually upgraded; while advanced ICTs applied across the entire intermodal system will offer important opportunities to increase existing system capacity.
Besides, he clamoured that infrastructural facilities should be adequately available, adding that global competitiveness in the near future will depend on the level of technological advancement and integrated and coordinated multimodality through robust ICT and GIS applications.
The Managing Director, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said NPA’s vision is to be the leading port in Africa.
This, according to her, also means that the nation must lead in modernization of equipment and infrastructure to respond to global trends in shipping business, thus developments and upgrades of existing port infrastructure, as well as improvements in port performance have become imperative.
She said the review of the concession agreements will challenge all parties to meet their various obligations with regards to provision of infrastructure including technology and up-to-date equipment aimed at improve efficiency.
Making her commitment to make the maritime industry play a key role in boosting Nigeria’s economy, Usman urged operators to position themselves to deliver by investing in the requisite up-to-date equipment that will provide efficient services competitively.