The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has said that lack of scanners in the port and adoption of 100 percent examination could mar its dream of achieving 90 percent automation in all aspects of port operation before end of June, 2021.
He said this on Friday at a press conference held in Lagos to acquaint the public with the success story of the Council in recent time.
He however expressed delight at the electronic truck call-up system introduced by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the already commendable automated services of some shipping lines and port terminals.
Bello expressed optimism that activities of shipping lines and terminals will attain a minimum of 90 percent automation by June, adding that digitalization would help curb delays, boost efficiency and reduce revenue leakages in the port system.
He said, “We shouldn’t forget that we have competition. Nigeria ports should be the hub in the West and Central Africa region. However, we can’t achieve this without ports that are fully automated and operate 24 hours daily. Most ports across the world are digitized. Human contact is dangerous; it brings delays and extortion.”
“A port is not a place for contact. We are trying to achieve this 100% automation. To achieve this, we need full integration with banks, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), terminals and shipping lines, among other stakeholders.”
He revealed the ratings of shipping lines on automation with Grimaldi ranked highest with 88% compliance, Ocean Network Express with 75%, CMA CGM had 60%; but lamented that some shipping companies had as low as 20% on the automation rating.
For terminals, he commended PTML which scored 92% and BUA which had 75% while encouraging others to up the ante.
He, however, noted that most shipping lines had challenges linked with refunds and claims processing.
Referring to the nation’s existing ports as outdated ports, the NSC boss harped on the need to have deep seaports as he stressed that the economies of scale and modern trends supports deep seaports.
“We know that Apapa and Tin Can are tired ports that can’t be dredged further. Ships shouldn’t stay at other nations and transship to Nigeria. It should be the other way round. The development of deep seaports such as Lekki could be a game-changer in that regard.”
He also added that the Council is exploring all alternatives to expedite the development of viable dry ports and truck transit parks across the nation via public private partnerships (PPP).
On multimodal approach to cargo evacuation, he stated that the federal government has linked rail to Apapa port, describing it as a wonderful thing because cargoes evacuated by rail will be cheaper and faster.
“Inland waterways via barges are also an alternative for cargo evacuation. This hasn’t been perfected because there are security, safety and tariff structures that need to be addressed. There is an overall issue of standardization,” he said.