Expert urges FG to simplify port processes to reduce cost

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BOLAJI Akinola, Spokesperson for Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) on Tuesday, called for the simplification of port processes to reduce cost.

Akinola made the call on an Instagram Live programme organised by Mrs Ezinne Azunnah of the Maritime TvNews.

The programme was themed: “Port Economics: Are Nigerian Ports Expensive’’?

According to him, there is no disputing the fact that the Nigerian ports are expensive but the point is what are the components of these expenses.

He pointed out that studies had shown that the cause of high cost of operations at the ports could be attributed to three major issues, cost of shipping, customs duty and trucking.

“Cost of shipping into Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. If it is compared to cost of shipment from China to Ghana, it is cheaper than from China to Nigeria using same vessel.

“Secondly is the Customs duty. Study indicates that 70 per cent of cost associated with our ports is charged by the Nigeria Customs Service and coupled with other ancillary agencies that post additional costs.

“Thirdly, it has to do with trucking. This is expensive in Nigeria and it is cheaper to bring container from China to Nigeria than to move that same container from Lagos to Kano.

“Trucking fee has gone up like five times by more than 500 per cent within the past two years and it is attributed to the function of the dilapidated infrastructure around the ports,” he said.

Akinola noted that as regards offloading processes, there were issues when the border was closed which was unplanned and resulted to surges in cargo and backlogs but that had been addressed.

He added that there was no shortage of handling equipment as terminal operators within that period had to bring in new equipment to tackle the situation.

He pointed out that the 100 per cent physical examination instead of the use of scanners by the Customs created backlogs and added cost to cargo owners.

“There were like three levels of manual inspection being carried out by Customs and this slowed the flow of trade and created backlogs which added cost to cargo owners.

“Eighty per cent of cargo coming into the ports are manually inspected right inside the ports. At the gate which is less than a kilometre, another set of Customs officials are there for inspection and immediately few kilometres away, another group is seen there.

“This manual inspection does not augur well for the ease of doing business being pushed by the government,” Akinola said.

He called for synergy between stakeholders, saying that in the entire system, only terminal operators’ charges were regulated by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), saying that the charges had not been reviewed for over 10 years.

He noted that as regards terminal operators, it was only the storage charges that were high and that was to make cargo owners stop using the ports for storage.

Akinola said that for truckers, it was difficult to regulate them considering the difficulties they experienced due to the dilapidated road network.

He urged the Federal Government to fix the roads as it generated enough revenue from the maritime industry through Customs and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

He also urged the government to develop means for cargo evacuation, saying that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) should do the needful by connecting rail lines.

Akinola said that as regards empty containers, the NPA had come up with a policy urging shipping companies to develop holding bay outside the port area and ensure that containers were sent to those places. (NAN)

– May 26, 2020 @ 16:45 GMT |

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