The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have resolved to join forces to enhance the export of goods and deepen trade facilitation.
To this end, they have agreed to improve Nigeria’s export earnings and facilitation of export cargoes onboard ocean going vessels.
The move is aimed at supporting the Federal Governments economic diversification efforts in the months ahead.
The two government agencies made the resolve when the Comptroller General of the NCS, Alhaji Bashir Adewale Adeniyi led members of his management team to visit NPA headquarters, Marina, Lagos recently.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mr. Mohammed Belo Koko said there is a need to streamline export desks to make facilitation of cargoes onboard vessels seamless.
Koko frowned at situation where Export Processing Terminals (EPT) report to export desk at the seaports.
His words: “We have raised the issue of export. We have seen a tremendous increase in 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 existed”.
The NPA helmsman urged the NCS boss to include the authority as part of agencies of government that would benefit from the proceeds of auctioning of overtime cargoes at the ports.
Giving reasons for his demand, he explained that NPA expended huge funds in moving the overtime cargoes from the seaports to the Ikorodu Terminal.
His words: “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 is 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”.
Adeniyi in his response stated that that the visit to NPA was to renew friendship and deepens existing relationship and collaboration.
He averred that the vision of NPA to ensure port efficiency would help the NCS to facilitate trade and regain lost cargoes to neighboring countries’ ports.
According to him, 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 programmes is trying to promote the competitiveness of our ports this aligns with our vision because Nigerians are diverting their cargoes to neighboring ports and we must do everything to ensure that our ports remain competitive.
Continuing, the Comptroller General of the NCS said: “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 these areas that have been mentioned, there is unanimity that we should have better ports, more efficient ports, more competitive ports that speaks to our needs.”