Stakeholders in the maritime sector, including government agents, regulatory bodies and operators, have discussed ways of achieving 24-hour port operations as directed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in his Executive Orders.
Speaking during a town hall meeting on 24-hour port operations in Lagos on Tuesday, the stakeholders noted that the mandate was achieved at the Apapa Port, the same could be replicated in every other seaport across the country.
In order to achieve the mandate, the stakeholders examined first the impediments to 24-hour port operations and how to remove them.
The Nigeria Customs Service stressed the need to streamline the current export and import guidelines to ensure greater service delivery.
This was contained in a presentation by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
He equally stated that advanced cargo manifest must be submitted within seven days before the arrival of the vessel bringing the cargo to the nation’s seaports.
In a paper presented on his behalf by the Customs Area Controller, Ports and Terminal Multiservices Command, Comptroller Aremu Modupeola, Ali noted that what would impede the attainment of 24-hour operations at the seaports was the integrity and compliance of the trading public where proper documentation and honest declaration were concerned.
According to the Customs boss, the service has moved from manual long room procedures to the Automated System for Customs Documentation++ (ASYCUDA) platform.
The ASYCUDA is a computerised customs management system, which covers most foreign trade procedures. The system handles manifests and customs declarations, accounting procedures, transit and suspense procedures.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, said that government agents at the seaports needed to work together and complement each other instead of competing with one another.
He stated that the port economic regulator should be allowed to act independently from any market interest in developing rules if the 24-hour port operations were to be achieved.
According to him, 24-hour power supply to the ports for efficiency and adequate security should be provided for users of port services and all stakeholders especially at night.
He further revealed that the NSC is currently championing the establishment of the inland container depots. These will assist in ensuring that the seaports maintain their status as transit points.
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