Speaking at a virtual meeting organised by the Council in Lagos recently, Bello, who described such as laborious and time wasting, charged Customs Service to reduce delays in the cargo clearance process by dismantling roadblocks mounted by its officials at the port access roads.
We believe that the procedure of Customs could be abridged to make sure things are done fast and there are no roadblocks after the container has been released.
Very soon, we believe scanners would be deployed by Customs so that we can reduce 100 percent physical examination, which is laborious and time wasting, he said.
He however said that the Council, in collaboration with other sister agencies, has developed a three point agenda of ensuring the realisation of a virtual port system and multimodal transportation to enhance efficiency at the port.
It is very important that by first or second quarter of next year, 98 percent of transactions are online. If we do that, it will mean that we are making our port competitive, eliminating inefficiency, delay and most importantly corruption because human contacts is the reason we see so much corruption at the port. We should have a virtual port and adopt a paperless base transaction, he said.
According to him, a committee has been set up to look into how to ensure that there is a virtual port.
The second point agenda we have started is multimodal approach in transportation. We cannot rely on the road alone. The Council has already brokered the standard operating procedure between the Nigeria Railway Corporation and the terminals, and we are now having multiple trips by rail and with every trip by rail, we knock out 38 trucks on the road, Bello said.
He further disclosed that delivery of cargo by barges through inland waters will also provide an alternative source of transportation that would help to reduce Apapa gridlock.
Muda Yusuf, director general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) urged the Federal Government to introduce reforms that would facilitate trade at the port.
Yusuf identified dilapidated port access roads, lack of functional scanners and frequent breakdown of Customs server as challenges that have continued to cause setback to trade facilitation.
Our trade policies need to be reviewed. For example, the border closure policy is impacting negatively on legitimate trade. Our foreign exchange policy is critical for trade facilitation and leaving it for Central Bank alone was not good and so the need to get things right. Tariffs should also be at a level that will be easy to enforce, he said.
He pointed out the need for agencies of government involved in inspection of cargoes at the port to become flexible and adopt online processes.