By Steve Agbota [email protected]
“Most of the ports in the world are digitised, Nigeria cannot be an exception.
We cannot have a multitude of people going into the ports every day, human contact in the ports is very dangerous, it is anti-efficiency and once there is human contact, there will be corruption and delay,” these were the words of the Executive Security/CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
Today, maritime nations around the world have digitalised their ports to remain competitive. Such developments will have huge impacts on current port operations and procedures.
This new trend in other ports of the world would solve the problem of corruption, revenue leakages, improve cargo clearance and ship turnaround once Nigerian ports are digitised and make them more competitive.
To remain in competition, the Council reeled out 3 points agenda aimed at ensuring ease of doing business at ports, effectiveness and competitiveness of the Nigerian port as digitalisation of port procedures and multimedia approach to port operations, especially the evacuation of goods from the ports and 24 hours port operation
Speaking in Lagos recently, Bello said that Nigeria as a country needs to digitalise all processes in the nation’s maritime sector and have non-contact digital port to be in competition.
“We shouldn’t forget that we have competitors. Nigerian ports should be the hub in the West and Central Africa region. However, we can’t achieve this without ports that are fully automated and operate 24 hours daily. Most ports across the world are digitised. Human contact is dangerous; it brings delays and corruption,” he said.
He said that the Council was working to ensure that the nation’s ports are automated that people would not really go there to do transactions, saying that once the port is digitised and contactless, it would bring efficiency, remove corruption and human contact.
“Some people don’t even have any business going into the port but you see them there, what are they doing? “We have been working with shipping companies and terminal operators to ensure we make the deadline we set for the first quarter but we saw it was not feasible to attain 90 per cent digitalisation.
“What we were able to do on the average was 70 per cent, but digitalisation of the ports is a process in the making. We want this to happen as quickly as possible,” Bello said.
According to him, a port is not a place for contact, which is why the Council is trying to achieve 100 per cent automation. To achieve this, he said there is need for full integration with Nigerian banks, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), terminal operators and shipping lines, among other stakeholders.
He said with automated ports, one could move millions of cargo with a computer, stressing the Council was on course to achieve 100 per cent port automation.
Bello however, hinted that a non-contact port was the solution to many problems in the system such as delay, high demurrage, diversion of money, corruption and revenue leakages.
He assured that Nigerian ports would attain 90 per cent digitalisation before the end of first quarter of the year 2021, considering that so far, some of the shipping service providers, particularly the shipping companies and terminal operators have done well in the area of digitalisation while some have very poor record.
The Council, he said, rated the automation level of some of the shipping companies in the first quarter at between 88 percent and 63 percent, in what the NSC described as a tremendous achievement.
In the rating, Grimaldi Shipping came first with 88 per cent compliance, Ocean Network Express – 75 per cent, CMA CGM – 60 per cent. He expressed dismay that some shipping companies were still at the level of 20 percent as far as automation is concerned.
On the terminal operators, he said PTML came first with 92 per cent while BUA had 75 per cent. He expressed optimism that there would be an improvement among all the shipping companies in the second phase integrating with banks and Nigerian Customs Service.