• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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NSC set to introduce standard operating procedure for agencies at port

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As part of its effort to remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering timely clearing of cargo at the nation’s seaport, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the interim commercial regulator for the port industry, has perfected plans to launch a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to guide the operations of service providers and government agencies operating at the port.

Standard Operating Procedure, which is geared towards achieving efficient service delivery at the port by eliminating time wasting, will also introduce a common port community system that will bring all the operating agencies under one single system. The concerned agencies include Immigration, Plant Quarantine, Port Health, Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and all the other operating agencies.

“We are currently taking the Standard Operating Procedures of the entire agencies at the port, which some of them have sent their SOP to the Council and we are looking at the individual SOP and dialoguing with them so as to achieve a single port system,” said Hassan Bello, executive secretary of NSC, at the just concluded two-day training on ‘A New Port Order’ for journalists, held in Lagos over the weekend. 

Continuing, he said: “This is the beginning of the new port order that we are talking about. We want transparency, predictability and efficiency. Also, the port community system will bring synergy among all the agencies that are currently doing things in different directions. Shippers’ Council has come to introduce supervision, integration, equilibrium, balance and synergy in port operation because the port is an integral thing that needs to be encouraged.”

According to him, the aim of introducing SOP is to remove waste and procedures that cause delay in cargo clearance at the port so as to reduce cost. The new procedure, he said, will help in streamlining the cumbersome procedures that causes delay, which some agencies are currently using at the port.

The Shippers’ Council boss, who noted that Nigerian seaport, is yet to achieve efficient delivery of cargo to importer’s warehouse due to lack of efficiency, bemoaned the situation, where importers and their agents are mandated to obtain an average of 46 signatures during documentation processes at the port.

“We want to make Nigeria the preferred destination for cargo shipment in the West African sub-region, and the port must be efficient for Nigeria to achieve this. There must be low cargo dwell time, low port charges, low cost of doing business at the port and 24-hour port operation in accordance with the international best practices,” Bello stated.

He further pointed out that agencies operating at the port needs to embrace automation to help in reducing delay, cost  and human interaction, which brings about corruption that has characterised the present day Nigerian port system. The automated procedure, he said, must cut-across every part of port operations such that there will be an introduction of electronic gate (e-gate) pass that will reduce the notable delays and queue at the port.

In introducing a new port order including standard operating procedure, Bello observed that the Council is also interested in reforming the freight forwarders, Customs agents and their associations, and transform them to professionals that have all it takes to do business at the port.

“Truckers and their associations must also be reformed because we are going to be looking at the standard of trucks that do business at the port. About 7,000 trucks come to Apapa on daily basis that is why there are usually chaos within the port city, thus, we need an average of seven registered trucking companies that are operating with a quality number of fleet.”

UZOAMAKA ANAGOR-Ewuzie