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Maritime agencies going digital to grow ease of doing business at ports—Shippers’ Council

The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello has disclosed that all agencies under the maritime division of the Ministry of Transportation are at various stages of completing the digitization of their systems.

This according to him is to drive seamless access to services and deepening of ease of doing business.

In an interview, he said even the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), a strategic member of ports business is closing in on automating its system so as to phase out physical examination of cargoes which had been the bane of importers in growing demurrage caused by delays.

Bello said “We have been talking about automation because it will ease the clearance process, make it transparent, block loopholes and revenue leakages as well as increase efficiency. A transaction that could take days will take only seconds with automation”.

Continuing, he said “Sometimes ago if you want to pay Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) dues, it will take you like 6 days because you will be required to go to the bank and bring the teller back to the port but now they are complying with technology and payment of dues at NPA presently takes less than 60 seconds and I know the terminal operators have also deployed appropriate technology in that regard”.

“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and others at the port are currently engaging in one technological adaptation or the other to improve operation. The Federal Ministry of Transportation is clear on competitiveness of our port and now there is collaboration between the Nigeria Customs Service and the Ministry of Transportation on the National Single Window.

According to him, “The Single Window is the panacea for all as it would accelerate our clearance process, integrate the system at the port, and make them more transparent, more credible and more competitive. So I think customs is doing everything to see to the realization of the national single window”.

Shippers’ Council boss further averred that his agency remain an active member of the committee of the Ease of Doing Business recently launch by the Office of the Vice President hence the ease and the cost of doing business are the focal points of the NSC.

He submitted that considering the spate of digital transformations going on in several African ports, the consortium of federal agencies are now building a synergy that will drive our ports competitiveness to attract cargo which is manifested in the economy in terms of employments content and infrastructure among others.

According to him, “We must simplify the way we do business and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has always called for automation of the ports and the deployment of appropriate technology. So the ease of doing business is at the heart of the NSC and we want other stakeholders to come along so that we will have our ranking up”.