The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has decried the high rate of manual examination of cargoes at the nation’s seaports, and asked the Nigeria Customs Service to deploy technology to drive the process.
Haastrup, who spoke in Lagos at the weekend, said manual examination of cargoes is not efficient and does not promote social distancing.
She said, “We have a situation where people must visit the port physically to do Customs documentation and cargo examination before they can take delivery of their consignments. This is not safe at this time and it is also inefficient.
“The Nigeria Customs Service should do everything possible to install functional scanners at the port to reduce the high rate of physical examination of cargoes and to reduce human contacts. Customs should also make it possible for consignees to process their released documents and make necessary duty payments online without having to visit the port or Customs commands. There is also need to reduce the number of government agencies that participate in cargo examination at the port in addition to reducing the number of checks carried out on cleared cargos both inside and outside the port premises. Customs’ clearing process must become smart at this time.”
The STOAN Chairman also said that due to declining oil revenues, Nigeria must begin to make deliberate attempt to shift its balance of trade.
“Nigeria must move quickly from being a net importer to a net exporter of food. Government will need to support farmers for better agricultural yields that will be attractive to the international market. The farmers will also need to be supported in reducing wastages experienced during harvests and in the course of getting their produce to the market. Funding and logistics support for the farmers is also of great importance at this time.
“Adequate storage, inventory management and transportation are key logistics activities that represent the most serious constraints facing our agric export today. These will need to be addressed by governments at all levels. Government should also endeavour to simplify the cumbersome processes and unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with documentation and processing of export cargoes at our ports,” she said.