The Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, at the weekend told the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it was working with shipping companies calling at the nation’s seaport to reduce freight charges by 30 per cent.
Speaking when the team from IMF, led by the mission chief senior resident representative for Nigeria, African Department, Amine Mati, paid a working visit to the NSC to review the economic outlook for 2020, the executive secretary of the council, Barr Hassan Bello disclosed that scanning machines at the ports will be available before the end of first quarter of 2020.
He said: “We are working with the shipping companies to reduce the cost by about 30 per cent, we will soon go into an agreement. We are also concerned with the ease of doing business, for now, there is 100 per cent examination. I think around March or second quarter of the year all the challenges will be resolved with the Customs and all the stakeholders.”
Bello, however, said that the NSC was trying to build a first-of-its-kind Port Community System (PCS) to ensure professional synergy and synchronise with the National Single Window, which is the simplification of all the overall processes.
“We need to be open and transparent; we have to reduce the corruption at the ports and we need to automate the ports for faster clearance of cargoes,” he said while speaking on the importance of the economic outlook.
Bello also said that the economic outlook the Council was working on was very important to Nigeria. “The issue now is that the country is facing serious economic challenges. And with the diversification of the sources of the revenue, it is important that the economy of the ports be given attention,” he said.
Bello nevertheless added that the nation’s seaport attracts between 40-60 per cent of the cargoes from the region. “Nigeria is in the centre of the North and Central Africa region and it is the largest economy in Africa. Nigerian Ports attracts 40-60 per cent of all the cargo in that sub region.
“So, the Nigeria Shippers’ Council is cut out for it to make sure that the ports are more efficient because we are in competition with the ports in the region. We want to attract more cargos because of the economic consequences. We want Nigeria to be the hub. But there are constraints and these constraints are clear,” he further said.
Meanwhile in his speech, senior resident representative mission chief to Nigeria IMF, Amine Mati lamented the various challenges bedevilling Nigerian ports as it carried out its economic outlook of the country for the year 2020. He said the visit was meant to find out what has happened between last year and this year and the challenges facing the sector.
Speaking with journalists after visits to three terminals including APMT, GDNL and PTML, he stated that the ports are still marred with several challenges according to the information he gathered from the operators ranging from lack of good roads, lack of scanners and absence of national window, among other challenges.
He said, “As part of our work, we are meeting all stakeholders trying to find out what has happened. We are trying to find out what has happened to Apapa port. Logistics is very important so; we are trying to find what is happening not only by meeting you but by going to the field and seeing the ports and seeing the challenges with our own eyes.
“We came to see what are the port activities, what are the challenges, what are the priorities and policies that have been put in place particularly scanners, Customs Windows, national windows that will be needed to try and accelerate process. And we also looked at roads because as trade picks up, and port is part of important economic activity of Nigeria.
“There are challenges as the port authority themselves and different operators recognise it and some of the priorities told us was about logistics, the roads, the scanners, the single window, having the Customs clearance system and also outside the port, the infrastructure has to be there,” he added.