Maritime industry stakeholders have called for customs processes to be fully digitalized along with key massive infrastructural development that would ease movement of goods and services out of the port environment in Nigeria.
The argued that if adopted, the process would lead to minimal human contact in the clearing process and cut down the multiple checks of cargoes by customs and other security agencies which breeds corruption within the maritime industry.
This was disclosed at a Town Hall Meeting on the future of Nigeria’s maritime industry with the theme: “Achieving Effective Digitalization of Nigeria’s Maritime Industry, “held in Lagos.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr. Vicky Haastrup, said automation improves cargo handling operation and trade flow at the port for port capacity and efficiency.
Delivering her keynote speech titled, “Impact of Automation in Cargo Handling Operation At Our Ports,” said consignees and their agents do not need to be at the port physically with regards to their transactions with terminal operators.
“The question that may readily come to your minds at this point will be: why then are there so many people visiting the ports daily in connection with their consignments? Why is the cost of doing business at the port still high? Well, my answer to this question is: Customs processes.
“Despite the tremendous improvements recorded in cargo handling operations and the provision of marine services by NPA, consignees and their agents still face numerous man-made hurdles at the port because cargo clearing processes have remained manual. Customs’ cargo clearing systems in Nigeria, using the words of a former CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council Mr. Hassan Bello, have remained archaic,” she said.
“While it has now become possible for importers and licensed Customs agents to make their declarations, obtain the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) and pay import duties online, the resort to manual processes from the point of cargo examination creates a huge dent on the drive for port efficiency.”