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Stakeholders advocate e-clearing, cargo scanners at seaports

By Sulaimon Salau
05 December 2018   |   3:52 am
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have sought for synergized system that prioritises electronic clearing and installation of new cargo scanners at the nation’s seaports. The stakeholders, who spoke at Freight Forwarders Day in Lagos, said this would facilitate trade and clear the lingering congestion at the ports. President, National Association Government Approved Freight Forwarder’s (NAGAFF),…

Cargo Dock

Stakeholders in the maritime sector have sought for synergized system that prioritises electronic clearing and installation of new cargo scanners at the nation’s seaports.

The stakeholders, who spoke at Freight Forwarders Day in Lagos, said this would facilitate trade and clear the lingering congestion at the ports.

President, National Association Government Approved Freight Forwarder’s (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, said one of the major challenges currently facing the industry is lack of scanners at the ports, and the long dwell time of cargo which attracts the payment of undue demurrage and storage charges.

He also pointed out that the port congestion and the traffic gridlocks have had serious consequences on the economy, while lack of full automation of the clearance and various uncertainties were created by territorialism and system manipulation.

Uche identified other issues militating against smooth operations at the ports to include: delay in the passage of various maritime bills into law; lack of collaboration and overlapping functions of agencies; malpractices against trade rules through non-compliance and various vices; and inefficient inland transport system, railways and waterways to link the port.

He therefore enjoined the Federal Government to collaborate with stakeholders to solve these problems and key into the new wind of change in the global maritime space.

He said government’s policy of regenerating the economy should be targeted at creating an export-driven economy, and massive investment in infrastructure, which would create more opportunities for logistics providers.

According to him, part of the modernisation process should include technology integration, adoption and application of skills, data analytic skills and process improvement skills and innovation.

He stressed the need for increased emphasis on automation and e-commerce, adding that: “the best time to reform the Customs Licensing regulation is now and we must take drastic decision to ensure migration from the present approach to contemporary global best practices.”

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, represented by the Chairman, Governing Council, CRFFN, Tsanni Abubakar, called on stakeholders to work with the government to address issues affecting Nigeria’s maritime sector.

He assured that the Ministry would work with various government agencies to create an enabling environment in line with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business agenda.

The Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, Prof. Iyiola Oni, advocated the need for electronic training for freight forwarding practitioners in line with international best practices.

Oni said a robust online/real time programme for practitioners would launch the subsector operators into the international community, and further create an avenue for global recognition.

He also affirmed that practitioners in the subsector of the maritime industry must be eager to acquire knowledge to enable them compete favourably with their international counterparts.

Highlighting some of the challenges faced by practitioners, the varsity don decried that only 10 per cent of freight forwarding practice in Nigeria has been utilised by the operators, pointing out that freight agents have a major role to play in trade facilitation and transport logistics chain.

While appealing to operators to participate fully in policies that could transform the industry, the varsity don urged the freight forwarders to embark on massive research, and further advise government on how to build human and capacity development in line with international best practice.