The Federal Government has urged shippers nationwide to come together as key players in the nation’s economy in order to take part in policy formulation and trade negotiation at national and global level.
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, stated this during the Election and Inauguration of the National Shippers Association of Nigeria (NASAN) in Lagos.
While stressing the need to focus on exports, Bello said export cargoes still suffer 20 or 24 days delay before gaining access into the port, while imported cargoes suffer 21-days cargo dwell time at the port.
While taking cognizance of the fact that the purpose of establishing the national body of shippers apart from enhancing the bargaining power of the associations is to negotiate with the stakeholders, locally and internationally, he urged NASAN to speak with one voice so as to boost their bargaining power.
He lamented that for so long, the Nigerian shippers have neglected their roles in the hands of freight forwarders adding that as cargoes owners, they are supposed to be engaging government directly and even to issue instructions to the NSC.
Bello added that NASAN should ensure its members participate actively in the newly established African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to ensure that they benefit optimally in all relevant sectors of the regime.
According to him, cargoes spend just 7-days dwell time at the port in other neighbouring ports. He therefore assured stakeholders that the Council was already in talks with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the need for Nigerian shippers to have access to finance, information and connections on the international market.
He said: “There are many shippers, who are exporting now, and one of the problems is access to the port, we have cargoes that spend 20-days and 24days before they gain access into the port, we have struggled so much to ensure that this is not done.
“We need exporters who are shippers to also have free access to the port, they should have access to information about the market, and they should also have access to finance. The same situation is with importers, there are issues at the port, cargoes have 21-days dwell time, meanwhile it is 7-days at our competing neighboring ports”
The NSC boss said it was the duty of the newly inaugurated NASAN to engage the government and ensure reduction in dwell time of cargo.
“You should also ask for the simplification of processes and procedures, we should ask for digitalisation of our ports. I am happy to inform you that digitalisation of our ports has gotten to a very critical stage where most of our terminals have really grown up, we are insisting that they must have 90percent compliance, the banks must come in, so that you can transact even without coming to Lagos, the freight forwarders, truckers and shipping lines must be online, this would stop the corruption going on at the port.”
Bello enjoined the group to elect officers who are genuine and regular importers and exporters to pilot the affairs of the NASAN.
In his victory speech, the new NASAN President, Innocent Akuvue, said he would work with maritime stakeholders on different ports and try to streamline procedures and processes to make clearing, importing and exporting much more convenient.