Maritime experts have called for automation of the nation’s port processes before they could compete favourably with peers in west and Central African sub-region.
They also called for immediate reduction of vessels turn around time, as well as cargo dwell time, at the nation’s seaports.
Speaking at the ongoing 3-day 16th edition of the Maritime Seminar for Judges organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute, they called for the use of legislation to compel Nigerian ports to adopt technology.
The former executive secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, said, Nigeria ought to have a contactless port that is digital and technological driven.
According to him, the two competing edge the port will have with automation is to minimise the amount of time ship and cargo spend at the port, which is the cargo dwell time.
Bello said, Nigerian shippers usually decide to take their cargo to sister countries like Cotonou because the ship will discharge in two days and the cargoes would be cleared in seven days with only three or four documents to fill.
Unlike Nigeria, he said, where it takes 20 days for a ship to turnaround and 21 days for the consignees to get their cargo out of the port.
“In Singapore, there is no dwell time for cargo.”
soon as it comes. Cargo inspection is important to determining the viability of the cargo and how economically focus the country is. The Nigerian Ports Authority is very strategic such that since the privatisation of the ports, Nigeria has gotten much improvement in cargo handling compare to what was initially obtainable,” Bello said.
Bello, who noted that Nigerian port needs adequate infrastructure including inland connectivity to be efficient, said there are no scanners at Nigerian ports, which had made cargo examination very slow.
According to him, where a container can be examined in 5 minutes using scanners, physical examination takes 5 hours, thereby calling on Nigeria Customs to deploy scanners to port to ease cargo inspection.
He, however, called for the use of legislation to compel Nigerian ports to adopt technology, adding that there should be unification of Law by African sister countries of Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone among others.
On his part, the former president, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (NISA), Aminu Umar, confirmed that Nigerian port needs to automate a lot of its port processes.
He said the major issue faced in the port today is congestion and delay in ships coming to berth, adding that port operation in Nigeria for the past few years has been challenged due to the congestion in various ports.
Umar further said that ship owners also face the issue of documentation processes due to the multiplicity of approval in Nigerian port unlike in some other ports.
On his part, the representative of the managing director of the NPA, Innocent Gamboru, said the vision of the ports authority is to be the maritime logistics hub of Africa adding that, this is why it is introducing innovations in port operations.