The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have pledged to work together to deepen trade facilitation and drive exports as part of measures to support the federal government’s economic diversification effort.
They made the pledge yesterday when the Comptroller General of the NCS, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi led members of his management team to NPA’s headquarters, Lagos.
Doing so, they stated, will improve Nigeria’s export earnings and facilitation of export cargoes onboard ocean going vessels.
Speaking, the Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Belo-Koko said there is a need to streamline export desks to make facilitation of cargoes onboard vessels seamless.
The NPA boss, however, frowned at the situation where Export Processing Terminals (EPTs) reported to the export desk at the seaports.
“We have raised the issue of export. We have seen a tremendous increase in the percentage and quantity of export cargo and we appreciate that, but we still have a little problem because we have an issue of multiple export desks.
“The first time we met, I raised the need to find a way to collaborate and collapse the export desks at the ports so that an exporter will report to that export desk where you have the combined desk. That way, it will be easier to facilitate export cargoes instead of multiple desks that currently exist, “he said.
Speaking further, Bello-Koko, urged the Customs CG to include the authority as part of agencies of government that would benefit from the proceeds of auctioning of overtime cargoes at the ports.
According to him, the authority expended huge funds in moving the overtime cargoes from the seaports to the Ikorodu terminal.
“On the issue of overtime cargo, the committee was set up where Nigerian Customs led and an assessment has been done. Everyone has gone round the port and we know the impact of overtime cargo on the activities of terminal operators. It has occupied a lot of economic space and it’s creating difficulty in clearing cargo because there isn’t space. The ports are very small, however, the auction has actually started, the bid has started and the overtime containers have been moved to some locations but in our initial discussions, we have asked that all the money Nigerian Ports Authority spends should also be considered.
“We have moved cargo to Ikorodu and we are also going to be involved in other expenditures. But, we saw a circular where somebody who was instructed did not do what exactly what he was instructed.
“They forgot to put NPA as one of the agencies of government that will benefit from the auction proceeds. I believe that you can stop them to correct that mistake because we have really spent a lot of money when it comes to overtime cargo. If we are able to do that we also believe that it should also be made a regular thing whether it’s quarterly or once a year but let it be something that we don’t need to wait for 10 or five years before overtime containers are moved out of the seaports.
“I am so happy to see that containers have already started leaving the terminals to locations where they will be auctioned. That showed that you are listening,” he stated
Responding, the Customs CG, stated that the visit to NPA was to renew friendship and deepen existing relationship and collaboration.
According to him, the vision of NPA to ensure port efficiency would help the service facilitate trade and regain lost cargoes to neighbouring countries’ ports.
“This visit is more of vision alignment because since NPA desires to achieve port efficiency, we believe in Customs that port efficiency would help to facilitate trade and also, NPA through all these programs is trying to promote the competitiveness of our ports this aligns with our vision because Nigerians are diverting their cargoes to neighbouring ports and we must do everything to ensure that our ports remain competitive.
“The Nigerian economy is driven by our ports and finally we want to make our ports more efficient because when the ports are more efficient it would translate into better efforts in revenue generation so anything and everything that would help to reduce the time and the costs are what we would be exploring.
“If we go through all of these areas that have been mentioned they all speak to ensuring that we have better ports, more efficient ports, more competitive ports.”