• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Nigeria cutting agro-export delay as Lilypond terminal begins full operations

GATF initiative drives increased border agencies collaboration to enhance trade

The volume of post-harvest loss recorded by exporters of perishable agro-allied products is beginning to reduce as Nigeria begins to reap the gains of seamless processing of export commodities into the port with the commencement of full operations by the Lilypond Export Processing Terminal Ijora.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said there has also been an increase in the volume of the export of Nigerian commodities through the nation’s seaport as exporters that used to export through the neighbouring countries are beginning to bring in their cargo through Nigerian ports.

Speaking in Lagos on Wednesday during the on-the-spot assessment of the Lilypond Export Processing Terminal Ijora, Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of the NPA, said the NPA set up export processing terminals to operate as a place where exporters can bring in exports, sort them out, process and document them before they can head straight to the port for boarding on the vessel.

“We give all the necessary support to the Federal Government initiative of increasing non-oil exports by going round to ensure that the standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that NPA put in place are actually working.

“In the last nine days, Lilypond has processed about 300 export containers, which was an increase of 60 percent from the volume they were doing in the past. We will go round to see other EPTs,” Bello-Koko said.

He commended the Nigeria Customs Services for the efforts put into ensuring that the Export Processing Terminals function appropriately, adding that the acting Comptroller General has been helpful.

According to him, the NPA management has had fruitful discussions with the new Customs management in terms of making a few amendments in the area of export processing by Customs and immediate action has been taken in that line.

“We will keep working with the Nigeria Customs and other government agencies that are involved in processing exports. The new CG has set up a Customs export desk the same way the NPA has set up an export processing desk. Nigeria needs to seamlessly process its export trade to make them more competitive and ensure they arrive at their destinations on time,” he said.

Pointing out that there had been complaints that are related to bad roads, extortion and others, the NPA boss said the Authority has been proactive in handling the issues even though there are cases of exporters bringing in consignments to the terminal without the requisite documentation.

He said the NPA is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Customs, NAFDAC and other government agencies to sensitise the exporters and ensure that they understand the things that are required of them to reduce delays.

On his part, Olatunji, Baale, managing director of the Diamond Star Export Processing Terminal in Ijora, said that over 300 export boxes have been gated into the port in the last nine days without challenges, adding that the terminal has the capacity to process 500 export boxes on a weekly basis.
He said there is an NPA task force team that escorts the export boxes that are sent into the port in batches to prevent extortion and delays.

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“We are fully ready for this operation, and we interface with customers online. We release the first batch of 40 export boxes by 10 am to the port while the second batch of 40 export boxes is released before close of business,” he said.

According to him, the terminal has been operating skeletally since it was opened in November 2022 but has commenced full operations.

The NPA boss said there were times that the electronic call-up system had issues but there is now a tremendous increase in terms of processing exports because the NPA is giving priority to export because the country needs to improve on export commodities.

He added that the NPA came up with the tariffs that are to be charged by the Export Processing Terminals to avoid double charges by the port terminal operators and reduce the cost of exporting through Nigerian ports.