Experts seek legal support for automating port processes
Maritime experts have called for automation of the country’s port processes before they can compete favorably with their counterparts in the West and Central Africa sub-region.
They also called for an immediate reduction in vessel turnaround time, as well as cargo dwell time, in the country’s seaports.
Speaking at the ongoing 3-day 16th Edition of the Maritime Seminar for Judges organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in conjunction with the National Judicial Institute, they called for the use of legislation to force Nigerian ports to adopt the technology.
Former NSC Executive Secretary Hassan Bello said Nigeria should have a digital and tech-focused contactless port.
According to him, the two competitive advantages that the port will have with automation are to minimize the time spent by the vessel and the cargo in port, i.e. the cargo dwell time.
Bello said Nigerian shippers usually decide to route their cargo to sister countries like Cotonou because the vessel will unload in two days and the cargoes clear customs in seven days with only three or four documents to complete.
Unlike in Nigeria, he said, where it takes 20 days for a ship to turn around and 21 days for consignees to get their cargo out of port.
“In Singapore, there is no downtime for cargo.”
as soon as he comes. Cargo inspection is important in determining the viability of the cargo and the economic concentration of the country. The Nigerian Ports Authority is very strategic so since the privatization of the ports, Nigeria has improved cargo handling a lot over what was initially available,” Bello said.
Bello, who noted that the Nigerian port needs adequate infrastructure including inland connectivity to be effective, said there were no scanners in Nigerian ports which made the review very slow shipments.
According to him, where a container can be examined in 5 minutes using scanners, the physical examination takes 5 hours, thus calling on Nigerian Customs to deploy scanners at the port to facilitate cargo inspection.
He however called for the use of legislation to compel Nigerian ports to adopt the technology, adding that there should be a unification of law by fellow African countries Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone. among others.
For his part, the former president of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (NISA), Aminu Umar, confirmed that the Nigerian port needs to automate much of its port processes.
He said the main problem facing the port today is congestion and delay of vessels coming into berth, adding that the operation of the port in Nigeria over the past few years has been tested in due to congestion in various ports.
Umar further said that shipowners also face the problem of documentation processes due to multiplicity of approvals in the Nigerian port unlike some other ports.
On his part, the representative of the Director General of NPA, Innocent Gamboru, said that the vision of the port authority is to be Africa’s maritime logistics hub, adding that this is why it is introducing innovations in port operations.