This statement was asserted by the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Shipper’s Council, Mr Hassan Bello declared, Thursday, that the dreaded gridlock presently associated with cargo movement in Lagos would not go beyond March, 2021.
Hassan Bello stated this in Lagos, during the 7th year anniversary of Port business, which was held at the Etal hotel Apapa.
The event which was themed: ‘Covid-19 challenge, which way forward for Nigeria’s Transport Industry’ was attended by stakeholders from the industries.
Specifically, the Council CEO noted that with the Federal Government declared policy that all ports, dry ports, sea ports and airports must be connected to rail; and with the ongoing determination to complete the Apapa Lagos Standard rail soonest, the disappearance of gridlock was a foregone conclusion.
“Our ports must be digitalized, there must be online procession, we need a port that nobody will be going there constantly, we are in competition with other ports all over the world”, Barrister Bello indicated, adding that all the agencies under the federal ministry of transport have keyed into the vision of ensuring true digitalization of the port.
“We at present are looking at 52%, digitalization; but the Nigerian Shippers council is saying, by March next year we will have reached 85-90% digitalization.
Bello analyze further that “If we look at our banking sector about 3 years ago it will be difficult for you to go to the bank because of so much queues, but now the banking halls are empty, because processings are done online, that is what we want our ports to be and we have resolved to have digitalization of our ports at least by 85%.
He added that “Another thing is we are determined to operate on 24 hours. Already some of it is being done now, within the cooperation of all others like the Nigerian Customs, the terminal operators, the shipping companies, the freight forwarders and the shippers , reason we have congestion in our ports, is because our ports operates only Monday to Friday, and it’s done between 9am to 5pm and everybody goes away.
“We must have 24hours, if we do that we will see what will happen. We are having 21 days cargo dwuel time, the original one is 7 days that what we want, cargo must exit the port after 7days, the port is not a storage , the port is just to clear cargo and this must be done.”
“It is important that we look at the infrastructure and processes and look at the attitude, the attitude we have is everybody should just go today come out and go to the port at the same time; and our export cargoes too everybody want to go to the port without completing the procedures.
The Central Bank has ruled out this manual process, everything is now digital, and that will make it easier for us.
Bello also urges: “Nigeria must diversify its economy, we must do more of export than import, we cannot be import dependent- economy for ever, that means we have to do more production and manufacturing.
“The Nigerian and African free trade will come into effect by January next year, and it is important that we are ready. How are we ready? Are our ports efficient?, do we have necessary infrastructure? that is, the road, rail, dry ports and other transport point, we must get these things right, also the processes determine how competitive we will be. We cannot dominate the world trade if the infrastructure are not built.
“Our rail road is laudable.
We should also look at the Lekki deep seaport which can accommodate larger vessels because the apapa and Tincan ports are already tired we must have infrastructure that will support our economy, we cannot dominate unless we have the necessary infrastructure.” He said
” I am happy our sister organizations like the Nigerian Port Authority, NIWA, NIMASA, Nigerian Railway cooperation, associations of CRFFN have all come together to look at this issue, and conclude technology is the answer “, he further explained.