The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Office of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, on Wednesday challenged stakeholders in the maritime sector to embrace virtual ports operation as part of measures to fast track development in the sector and the larger economy.
Speaking on Wednesday during an interactive session on Webinar tagged: “Covid-19 And The Nigerian Maritime Sector: Lessons And The Way forward”, Bello described the present Port operations as cumbersome.
The Webinar meeting, organized by Mike Igbokwe Law firm and monitored by our reporter had representatives of strategic stakeholders in the maritime sector in attendance.
According to Bello, the ports can operate optimally 24 hours like the airport if adequate measures are put in place to make it services less of human contact and paperless.
To achieve this, he reiterated need for an integration of all stakeholders in the maritime sector such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NSC, Customs, importers, terminal operators, agents, among others.
Bello also decried the physical and monotonous means of examinations at the ports, adding that stakeholders must brainstorm on ensuring that the ports develop an inter modal transport system.
The NSC boss also used the opportunity commend the APM Terminals, whom in conjunction with the council launched a rail evacuation services earlier this week.
He also said the congestion currently being experienced at the ports is not good for businesses as the multiplier effects have adversely affected all stakeholders in the sector as operators are losing huge resources day in day out.
According to him, the council is working round the clock to ensure ease of doing business for stakeholders in the sector, adding that adequate automation of ports services and employment of multi modal means of evacuation of cargoes will enable ease of doing business for operators and investors in the sector.
On Covid-19 challenges and the way forward, Bello said: “From the onset, we realised that It was important to strike a balance between ports operations, services and safety.
“Some of the challenges we experienced at the initial stage includes; banks not opening to provide financial services within the ports, lack of means of transportation within and outside the ports for essential services.
“There was so much negative impacts as big markets like the Onitsha, Aba markets were shut hence problems of where goods stuck at the ports would be moved to.
“Restriction on interstate movement was also another down time for businesses in the Port as goods were stuck in the ports leading to loss of huge resources for both shippers and owners”.
Also on the panelists were NPA MD, Hadiza Bala Usman, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, Lawyer and Chairman Maritime Trade Group, Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Aminu Umar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Sea Transport Group Limited, Chief Uju Nwabunike, President, Association of Nigeria Customs License Agents, ANCLA, represented byAlhaji Babatunde Mukaila National Secretary of the Association, Captain Adewale Ishola, Former President of Nigeria Association of Master Mariners, among other participants.