The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), has raised an alarm over the free fall in exports at the seaports due to current lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, during a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, attributed the dwindling rate of exports at the seaports to restriction of interstate movement, and lack of access to foreign exchange to support export among others.
He stressed the need for all hands to be on deck, to avoid looming food insecurity, inflation, and job losses as attendant impacts of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s economy.
Suggesting an immediate solution, Bello advised that export cargoes could be consolidated and escorted across state lines to the seaports, to ease movement, and urged the Presidential Task Force on COVID– 19 to direct security personnel to facilitate interstate movement of cargoes (export and import).
According to him, the Kaduna Inland Dry Port and some bonded terminals across the country should be utilized as consolidation centres for export cargo with the necessary certification agencies such as pre-inspection agents to facilitate export.
He said the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Shippers’Council, and Pre-inspection Agents must coordinate and facilitate export cargo within the limited circumstances.
To complement the proposed 139 scanners by Customs, he said terminals could be permitted to deploy scanners at the quays for operational efficiency, and called for full operation of banks in the ports.
“Operations within the port ecosystem should be fully automated to enable efficiency and discourage physical contact, while there is need for harmonization of processes and procedures of agencies operating at the ports,” he stated.
Bello harped on implementation of an intelligent traffic management system and effective call up system for trucks within the port area.
He stressed the need for consolidation of freight forwarding groups and streamlining of the profession to strengthen the role in the transport and logistics value chain.
He called for urgent implementation of the Advanced Cargo Tracking Note and integration of government agencies with the approved Maritime Single Window platform, as this would go a long in facilitating imports and exports at the seaports.He said the Shippers’ Council has been monitoring daily activities at the seaports to ensure unhindered port operations during the lock down.