The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has expressed concern over the low capacity utilization of the Nigerian ports compared to similar facilities in the western world.
The National President of ANALCA, Tony Nwabunike, who disclosed this at the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON)’s Annual Conference/Awards held at Sheraton Hotels in Ikeja Lagos State recently, said advanced countries like U S, China, France, UK, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore practice seamless port operations which is not the case in Nigeria.
At the forum with the theme: “Seamless ports Operation in Nigeria,” Nwabunike noted that the port in UK facilitates about 95 percent of the country’s trade whereas high level of capacity utilisation is not obtainable in Nigeria at present.
“Apart from low capacity, another factor working against seamless port operations in Nigeria is the human interface causing unnecessary bottlenecks. Port operations in other countries are digitalised, such that the human elements are totally eliminated.
“In such countries, Customs Brokers carry out their transactions from the comfort of their offices because the system is highly automated and movement of people is restricted within the port ambiance.” He said.
He listed the role of Customs Brokers in Seamless Port Operations in Nigeria to include; logistics management at various stages of cargo clearance chain from ports, acting an intermediary between the shipper and the shippers’ customer, and the importer and Customs authority to fast track cargo clearance from the seaport, airport and border post.
The ANALCA President said although the Nigerian government is putting measures in place to rejuvenate the port industry for seamless operations like what obtains in other climes, there are a lot of factors militating against the system in Nigeria, including: Lack of infrastructure like scanners to speed up cargo examination by Customs and other Government Agencies, multiple agencies of governments at the seaport carrying out similar functions and Perennial traffic gridlock hindering easy access to the seaport.
Others according to Nwabunike are; Poor road network within the port vicinity, lack of functional railway system for immediate evacuation of containers out of the port, activities of miscreants within the port corridors, low draft, Under-utilisation of Eastern ports, corruption and sabotage in the system, among others.
He asked Government to provide scanners and modern facilities to fast track cargo examination and seamless port operations and to streamline the number of agencies performing similar functions within the same port as well as address all other limiting factors earlier identified.