Stakeholders seek replication of Ghana ports system in Nigeria
• Extols NPPM in facilitating ease of doing business, reducing corruption
Stakeholders have called for the replication of Ghana’s Single Window System and its electronic data interchange platform called Trade-Net in Nigeria.
They said the platform has enabled operators in the sector share information, exchange data and fast track the working process.
They also commended the implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) that has facilitated the ease of doing business in the nation’s ports and drastically reduced corruption tendencies.
They gave the submission, yesterday, at a two-day seminar on implementation of Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM). Tagged: “Global Best Practices in Port Operations and the Industry Perspective,” the seminar held at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) corporate headquarters in Apapa, Lagos
The seminar was put together by the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) comprising the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
A ship broker and logistics consultant, Mr. James Olley, who gave a presentation on: “Shipping Operations in Nigeria – Global Best Practices,” said Nigeria’s port system has been facing challenges, which has defied solutions.
He said the current challenges include, inter-agency overlap with different objectives that have been a bane in the industry with the issues getting tough as well as lack of effective and objective targets for agencies.
Others, he stated, include, lack of measurements of parameters and mechanism for visibility among various players in the process, as well as, no properly organised and institutional manual of various agencies.
Olley also noted that government policies are affecting agencies, making them work at cross-purposes, thereby, affecting cost and efficiency of cargo delivery.
He said this is contrary to the processes in Ghana, whose port systems have been automated and work on a single window interface, with regulatory laws for efficiency and visibility.
Olley said the Ghana Community Network Platform (GCNET) implemented in 2002 has enabled automation of ports and customs operations with the presence of various users, interconnectivity of their activities and sharing of information.
He said the platform enables sharing information and data with all parties involved in the processing of trade documents and customs clearances.
Olley also said it provides opportunity for sharing of information among various stakeholders, which include Customs, ports authority, customs brokers, freight forwarders, commercial banks, freight terminals, airport freight ground handling, ministries of trade, ministry of finance and economic planning, revenue agencies, free trade zone, Ghana statistical service and Central Bank.
He said features of the platform include, electronic submission and integration of manifests, security of information (manifest), elimination of manual interventions and inherent duplications, selective targeting of high risk consignments through the systems risk management module, 24 hours/seven days processing of declaration and granting of electronic permit.
Olley said Nigeria needs to improve on its port processes through building of information technology.
While acknowledging that opportunities in deploying automation and single window in Nigeria’s ports system is enormous, he said availability of real time data, computer literacy, advanced collaboration with neighbouring countries, developed communication network and integrated exchange of customised business document are areas that could be discovered.
Former President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, said Ghana has eliminated its manual processes and operates optimally.
According to him, Ghana has an effective and efficient port community system that links up with the National single window, noting that it is quite unfortunate that Nigeria is far from getting it right.
Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, who spoke on, “Obligations of Various Actors in Vessel Boarding and Rummaging,” said the nation’s seaports are now becoming warehouses as import and export cargoes are stocked at the ports.
He said exporters do not complete their documentations before accessing the port, adding that it is when they get to the port that they do it, thereby, occupying space with their cargoes.
“Ports attract development, and if there is no proper regulations of access to the port, it would be inundated and traffic will not move. The essence of the port logistics ring is to ensure that the port and the maritime industry are all supervised as one unit to ensure smooth access and exit of the port,” he said.
Ebubeogu also charged government to exercise the will to empower all relevant agencies as an extension of delegated authority from the Executives to enable them meet with the charter to the people of Nigeria, as contained in Section 14.2b of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime, said the implementation of the manual has facilitated the ease of doing business in the nation’s ports and has drastically reduced corruption tendencies.
He said the overview of the manual and conversations on obligations of various stakeholders, mode of terminal operations, shipping operations, attitude of truckers and role of dock workers as enshrined in the manual, will provide beneficial information to add to stakeholders knowledge of the sector to foster operational efficiency in line with global best practices.
Jime said a proper understanding and application of the manual would bring about cost-effectiveness, reduction of waste, while maintaining quality of service.
He said it would also bring about transparency in the conduct of port businesses, which will produce trust and goodwill, while safeguarding the industry’s reputation among investors, partners, customers, and other stakeholders.
The NSC boss stated that if relevant stakeholders and authorities comply with approved standards and rules as enshrined in the manual, challenges faced today will automatically ease off and pave way for seamless operations at the nation’s seaports.
The National Coordinator, Port Standing Task Team, Moses Fadipe, applauded the activities of the team and achievement recorded since the inception of its operation despite victimisation and aggressive confrontation while on operation.
Fadipe, however, pointed out the excessive interpretation of rule of engagement by boarding officers, which he noted, should be proactively addressed.
He cited an incident, which involved a Ukrainian crew member, whose vessel called at Apapa port and was unjustifiably charge by a boarding officer, because his passport was not signed of which is a policy in Ukraine.