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BusinessDay

We’re working with Customs to improve port efficiency – NPA

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said it’s working with the Nigeria Customs Service and other government agencies to alleviate the plight of importers by improving port efficiency and facilitating trade at the nation’s seaports.

Speaking over the weekend during a television interview on News Central monitored by BusinessDay, Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of the NPA, said the responsibility of the NPA is to facilitate trade, and that can be achieved through improving port efficiency.

“We are working with other government agencies such as Customs, Shippers’ Council, and NIMASA to ensure that imports and exports are cleared out of the port faster. We need the Customs to reduce the time it takes to scan and inspect cargo because the faster it takes, the earlier the importer takes his goods,” he said.

Pointing out the need to reduce human interference in port business, the NPA boss said, Customs has installed scanners at the port, and port users are beginning to see improvement in cargo clearing at the port.

He added that the Federal Government has been paying serious attention to increasing efficiency at the port and has invested a lot in the port.

According to him, the NPA has been working to ensure that most of its processes are automated in order to reduce human interference.

Read also: NPA receives commendation for enhancing ease of doing business at ports

He further said this was why the Authority is working with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to deploy the Port Community System that will enable every stakeholder at the port to share information at a central portal, adding that it will help to reduce the number of documents required for cargo clearing and enable the deployment of the much-awaited National Single Window.

On revenue collection, Bello-Koko said the NPA has improved revenue from about N280 billion in 2019 to N317 billion in 2020 and over N360 billion in 2022.

In terms of contribution to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, he said, the NPA has grown its contribution from N80 billion in 2021 to about N91 billion in 2022.

“The Port Authority has improved the revenue collection mechanism by tightening the collection method, ensuring timely collection, blocking leakages, and reducing liabilities by making sure that shipping companies and terminal operators pay on time to avoid them owing NPA, which in turn becomes bad debts.

“We also hold Port Managers responsible and look for other sources of revenue. In recent times, we have had some jetties and off-dock locations coming up as well as barge operations,” he said.

The NPA boss said the Authority is also improving efficiency at the Eastern Ports by purchasing and deploying marine equipment. He said some terminal operators have keyed into the vision of reviving Eastern Ports by expanding their stacking areas and buying new equipment to improve services rendered at the port.

Citing an example, he said, the West African Container Terminal is doing that in Onne while PTOL is doing the same in Rivers Port.

“We keep letting Nigerians understand that there are ports in other parts of the country beyond Apapa and Tin-Can. But we are beginning to see an increase in cargo traffic because, on a year-on-year basis, Onne Port is the fastest-growing port in terms of cargo throughput. We are also seeing an increase in the volume of businesses in other ports in the Eastern part of the country,” Bello-Koko said.

On the plans for 2023, he said, NPA expects to deploy the Port Community System, the Vessel Tracking System that helps Port Authority to know the vessels that come to the country, start the reconstruction of the quays in the port, improve security along the channels and start the reconstruction of Escravos breakwater within the year.

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