LCCI DG Calls For Full Automation At The Ports

The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf has called for the full automation of activities at the Nigerian ports to reduce unnecessary human interface and corruption at the ports.
The DG was speaking during a one-day seminar organized by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) in conjunction with the Centre for Business Integrity (CBI), the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
Speaking on the theme: Corruption In The Ports: The Way Forward, Dr. Yusuf explained that there was urgent need to ensure a technology driven cargo clearance process through a single window, thereby eliminating unnecessary human interface at the ports, which he said has been the recipe for corruption in the ports.
The DG, who was represented by one Mr. Okorafor Eze further called for the use of scanners in cargo examination. “It is imperative as well to strengthen the ICT capabilities of the Custom Service. If need be, the ICT solutions for the Customs can be outsourced to a competent ICT body.
“There should be prompt and effective consequence management regime for infractions on trade processes. Such infractions include under declaration, under invoicing, concealment, false declarations. Perpetrators of such acts and their accomplices should be adequately sanctioned to serve as deterrent to other players in the maritime sector that have similar disposition.
“There is need to rationalize the agencies involved in cargo clearance process. Currently, there are too many customs desks involved in cargo clearance. There is need for a reduction in documentation in order to make the processes better and to facilitate trade.”
In a keynote address, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian shippers Council, Mr. Hassan Bello said that there has been over 50% reduction in the number of incidents reported by vessels calling Nigerian ports in 2020. He attributed the success to the collaboration of the NSC, the MACN, and the CBI.
“We can now confirm that more than 75% of vessels now call at Nigerian ports and terminals and leave without incidents of extortion in 2021 and where there are incidents; these were escalated to the Nigerian Shippers Council operating the Grievance Reporting Mechanism.
“The challenges and corrupt practices have reduced drastically as evident in the reports of MACN members’ vessel calling at Nigerian ports with less complaints and quick resolution without backlash, if any.”
Also speaking, Dr. Eugene Nweke, former President of NAGAFF said corruption in the ports was all encompassing; saying that even the government cannot exempt itself from corrupt activities at the ports. He fingered all the agencies involved in cargo clearance in the ports as participants in corrupt activities happening at the ports.
Dr. Nweke expressed concern over the activities of some freight forwarders who he said are supposed to be professionally driven to ensure timely delivery of goods. He however regretted how some have become an extension of trading activities and corruption. He identified unhealthy competition among practitioners, conspiracy to defraud, concealment, etc as some of the factors militating against freight forwarding business in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the event, the Vice President, Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), Mr. Tony Onyike recommended standard education qualification and on the job training for freight forwarders in order to address some of the anomalies in the system. Onyike further tasked the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) on the need for continuous education of freight forwarders in Nigeria.
“The CRFFN has a lot to do to ensure continuous capacity building for freight forwarders. There should be institutional training for freight forwarders. The CRFFN should determine the standard of education for becoming a freight forwarder. It should not be an all-comers affair. Integrity is to business as conscience is to truth,” the Onyike said.

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