ABUJA: The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) is to engender virtual operations at the nation’s ports, noting that physical contacts and transactions were encouraging corruption, inefficiency and delays within the facilities. It also promised to install an electronic gate at Apapa, Lagos in 18 months to check the traffic gridlocks at that axis, saying the challenge will immediately disappear since vehicles that do not have its electronic chips would be denied access.
NSC’s Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, who dropped the hints during a courtesy visit to the Rutam Headquarters of The Guardian in Lagos, said the measures were part of his administration’s commitment to enhance efficiency at the ports through modern infrastructure, technological advancement and cost-efficient policies. He said the initiatives would aid a 24-hour activity and reposition the facilities for a favourable competition within the West Africa sub-region.
Seeking the full cooperation of the media to enable him realise the goal, Bello said some swift interventions by the council had halted the diversion of cargoes to neighbouring ports. His words: “The shippers have been diverting cargoes to other countries before now. But the NSC has intervened by shortening the process. We are interrogating the system all the time and our aim is that you can sit down in The Guardian, import a car and clear it on your computer and it will come to Rutam House or wherever you want it to go. “You do not need any physical presence at the ports because it is physical transaction and cash that bring corruption, inefficiency and delays. So, that is the hope we have and that is the port of our future. Right now, we are even snatching goods away from our competitors.” Admitting that all the repositioning talks would amount to nought in the absence of smooth access roads, the NSC boss disclosed that the infrastructure were receiving attention, especially Apapa, the main money-spinning port in the country.
To protect other access roads nationwide, Bello said the agency was promoting transit parks to discourage trucks from inhabiting highways. He disclosed also that the NSC was working with the World Bank to examine the Lagos logistic rail network so that it could equally employ the rail, inland waterways and pipeline as means of transportation. According to Bello, the council is also introducing an automated container tracking system through a new cargo-tracking note. This, he said, would allow government to know the kind of goods that comes into the ports and check false declaration.