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NPA seeks collective effort for effective cargo clearance at nation’s seaports

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports
Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman (Middle), the Celebrant, Prince Olayiwola
Shittu (right), and Mrs. O. Shittu during the Colloquium and Book Presentation
in honour of Prince Shittu in Lagos on Monday.

The Managing Director
Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman, on Monday called on critical
stakeholders to ensure their collective commitment for effective cargo
clearance at the nation’s seaports.

She added that the NPA
should not be solely blamed for lapses in the cargo clearance process, as she
said “it takes more than NPA to see cargo out of the ports.”

According to her, the greatest
challenge is to have agencies that are directly involved in cargo clearance
play their respective roles seamlessly.

She therefore reiterated
that “the challenge is to get all agencies come under the Single Window which
NPA is under-taking”, to achieve a smoother and faster clearance of cargo from
the nation seaports.

The MD said this while
delivering a lecture entitled; “Driving the Change Agenda through Freight
Forwarding,” as part of activities marking the 68th birthday
celebration of Prince Olayiwola Shittu, former President of Association of
Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent (ANCLA) in Lagos.

She also called on Freight Forwarders in the nation’s maritime industry to embrace the Change Agenda of the Federal Government through improvement in terms of organization, capacity building that would enable them practice their profession in line with international best practices.

According to Ms Bala
Usman, freight forwarders must play an effective role in Ports operations because
today’s customer desire a services that are quick, reliable and flexible,
adding that the change agenda of the Federal Government makes it imperative for
all stakeholders in the maritime sector to be part of.

She said that the NPA had
taken some steps aimed at improving the freight forwarding in Nigeria in tandem
with the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and meeting the
expectations of the World Bank on Trade facilitation.

These steps include the
launching of the provisional, final billing and customer portal module of
Revenue Invoice Management System aimed at improving service delivery, partner
relationship, create efficient payment method, maximize revenue and eradicate
loss and revenue leakage.

Other steps according to
her, include the establishment of a Committee in collaboration with Nigerian
Navy to address Apapa gridlock, Call-Up System for trucks with shipping
companies and achieved collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) to
introduce the much awaited Single Window Platform and the establishment of an
Inter-Ministerial Committees chaired by the Managing Director of NPA and
co-chaired by the MD of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

The Managing Director
stressed the need for cooperation from all stakeholders in the nation’s maritime
sector, especially those involved in cargo clearance, to play their roles
seamlessly noting that all hands must be on deck to ensure the success of the
Single Window System in order that the Nigeria occupies an esteemed place of
pride among the comity of Nations in terms of global Port operations.

Speaking specifically on
the role of the Ports in the Landlord Model, Ms Bala Usman explained that
overtime there had been misconceptions about the role of the Authority in Port
She explained that, “In taking advantage of this auspicious occasion
I wish to state that in the current concession regime, cargo operation has been
ceded to terminal operators while the residual part of port operations still
reside with the Port Authority. These include pilotage, security, fire service
and maintenance of common user areas. Since cargo handling has been ceded to
the terminal operators, Freight Forwarders will find themselves interfacing
with each other to clear goods.

“In the interim, we have
through our concession agreement been playing a regulatory role to check their
excesses and the Government is in the process of perfecting the regulatory
structure institutionally to make it more effective so that things like tariff
that could possibly create exploitation by the terminal operators will be
checked,” she added.

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