From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
To achieve a faster, smoother and seamless cargo clearance at the ports, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has urged all agencies directly involved in cargo clearance to come under the Single Window (SW) platform it is undertaking.
Insisting that the agency should not bear alone the blame for the lapses in cargo clearance “because it takes more than NPA to see cargo out of the ports,” she said the greatest challenge was to have all the relevant agencies play their respective roles seamlessly.
Usman, in her lecture in Lagos during the 68th birthday celebration of the former President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, also urged freight forwarders to improve in organisation and capacity building to enable align their professional practice with international standards.
Speaking on the topic, “Driving the Change Agenda through Freight Forwarding,” she stressed that “freight forwarders must play an effective role in ports operations because today’s customers desire services that are quick, reliable and flexible,” which is imperative for all stakeholders in the maritime sector.
To meet the World Bank’s expectations on trade facilitation and improve freight forwarding, the agency embarked on “the launch of the provisional, final billing and customer portal module of Revenue Invoice Management System, aimed at improving service delivery, partner relationship, creating efficient payment method, maximising revenue and eradicating losses and revenue leakage.”
Others included the establishment of a joint
committee with the Nigerian Navy on the Apapa gridlock, call-up system for trucks with shipping companies, collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to introduce the Single Window Platform and the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee.
“We area also engaging other agencies who have roles to play in intermodal connectivity like railways and inland waterways to improve cargo delivery.”
Usman urged collaboration from all stakeholders in the maritime sector, especially those involved in cargo clearance, to play their roles seamlessly to ensure the success of the Single Window System, and to help Nigeria to a better placement in terms of global port operations.
Meanwhile, she explained that in the extant concession regime, cargo operation is ceded to terminal operators while the agency retains residual part of port operations including pilotage, security, fire service and maintenance of common user areas.
She noted that since cargo handling has been ceded to the terminal operators, freight forwarders will be interfacing with one another in clearing of goods, adding: “In the interim, we have through our concession agreement been playing a regulatory role to check their excesses.
“Government is in the process of perfecting the regulatory structure institutionally to make it more effective so that things like tariff that could possibly create exploitation by the terminal operators will be checked.”