As part of measures to support the Federal Government’s economic diversification effort, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has pleaded with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to collapse the multiple export desks that exist in the port.
Mohammed Belo-Koko, managing director of NPA, made the plea when Adewale Adeniyi, comptroller general of the NCS, recently led members of his management team to NPA’s headquarters in Lagos.
He said there is a need to streamline export desks to make the facilitation of cargo onboard vessels seamless.
The NPA boss, however, frowned at a situation where Export Processing Terminals (EPTs) report to the export desk at the seaports.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in the percentage and quantity of export cargo, and we appreciate that but, we still have a little problem because we have an issue of multiple export desks.
“The first time we met, I raised the need to find a way to collaborate and collapse the export desks at the ports so that an exporter will report to that export desk where you have the combined desk. That way, it will be easier to facilitate export cargoes instead of multiple desks that currently exist,” he said.
Bello-Koko further urged the Customs CG to include the authority as part of agencies of government that would benefit from the proceeds of auctioning of overtime cargoes at the ports.
According to him, the authority expended huge funds in moving the overtime cargoes from the seaports to the Ikorodu terminal.
“On the issue of overtime cargo, the committee was set up where Nigeria Customs led assessment has been done. Everyone has gone around the port, and we know the impact of overtime cargo on the activities of terminal operators. It has occupied a lot of economic space and it’s creating difficulty in clearing cargo because there isn’t space.
“The ports are very small; however, the auction has started, the bid has started, and the overtime containers have been moved to some locations but in our initial discussions, we have asked that all the money Nigerian Ports Authority spent should also be considered,” he explained.
According to him, NPA saw a circular where the Port Authority was not included as one of the agencies of government that would benefit from the auction proceeds.
“I believe that you can correct that mistake because we have spent a lot of money when it comes to overtime cargo. If we can do that, we also believe that it should be made a regular thing whether it’s quarterly or once a year but let it be something that we don’t need to wait for 10 or five years before overtime containers are moved out of the seaports. I am happy to see that containers have already started leaving the terminals to locations where they will be auctioned. That showed that you are listening,” he added.
Responding, Adeniyi said the visit to NPA was to renew friendships and deepen existing relationships and collaboration.
According to him, the vision of NPA to ensure port efficiency would help the service facilitate trade and regain cargo lost to neighbouring countries’ ports.
“This visit is more of vision alignment because since NPA desires to achieve port efficiency, we believe in Customs that port efficiency would help to facilitate trade and also, NPA through all these programmes is trying to promote the competitiveness of our ports this aligns with our vision because Nigerians are diverting their cargo to neighbouring ports, and we must do everything to ensure that our ports remain competitive.
“The Nigerian economy is driven by our ports and finally we want to make our ports more efficient because when the ports are more efficient it would translate into better efforts in revenue generation. Therefore, reducing the time and the costs are what we would be exploring,” he added.