The economic regulator of shipping in Nigeria, the Nigerian Shippers Council has said that vessels calling at Nigerian ports still spend 21-days at anchorage, compared to other neighbouring ports like Tema Port in Ghana where they spend 24hours.
This is even as the Council has accused other government agencies in the maritime sector of frustrating the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in developing am international trade portal for Nigeria.
Speaking at a webinar organised by Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, Nigeria (WISTA Nigeria) on Thursday, Ms Adaora Nwonu, Assistant Director, Special Duties, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) raised these concerns.
According to her, agencies like Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigeria Customs Service still mandate shipping companies to submit hard copies of shipping manifest which ordinarily should have been automated.
According to her, the lack of automation among the MDAs, made the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to issue a damning report on Nigeria in its 2020 reports after visiting the country’s port.
Speaking, she said “Right now, vessels are spending 21 days at our anchorage while at Tema Port, they are doing just 24hours. Ship masters move around other ports and they would tell you that Nigeria is the only place where they have these harrowing experience”
“Government agencies must comply with the executive order on ease of doing business, they should not be the one flouting it, the agencies are the major problem because they are not speaking to one another”
“Up till date, we are trying to build an international trade portal for Nigeria, currently we don’t have any, and UNCTAD has offered to help us do one, but UNCTAD cannot do it in isolation at Geneva, they need to work with government agencies in Nigeria, but I can tell you that the problem UNCTAD is having is government agencies talking to one another, this is why we still don’t have a trade portal in Nigeria. Meanwhile they have done it for even the most backward African countries”
“Government agencies are usually protecting their individual territories and refusal to share documents”
She said that most shipping companies have lamented to the Council that they have to invest in giant photocopy machines in order to print hard copies of shipping manifest to NIMASA, NPA and Customs.
“Vessels calling at Nigerian ports are expected to transmit their ship manifest within five to seven days before arrival of the vessel. In order climes, it only takes 48hours”
“The seven days is to improve the cargo clearance process.
Vessels are complying but not as much as we want because some of them call at neighboring ports and it is not easy for them to do seven days.
“We have taken statistics of that and it is noted. We are taking these issues back to PEBEC, these are issues that the shipping companies highlighted.
The seven days is because of the peculiarities of our own environment” she said