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Ports automation canvassed by maritime stakeholders

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 have spoken with one voice calling for immediate automation of port activities.

According to them, 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.

Chairman of 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.

In his submission, Idu argued 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,”

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.

He made it clear 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.

But relying on 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.

He therefore 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.

In her presentation, the Managing Director, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said NPA’s vision is to be the leading port in Africa, noting that the feat will be possible when the systems are automated and renewed with modern ports infrastructure.