Speedy Cargo Clearance: NSC Adopts Rail, Digitalises Ports Operations

Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello

By Sandra Chukwunyere

The Nigeria Shipper’s Council, NSC, is collaborating strategically with relevant agencies to further  upgrade shipping operations in the country including digitalizing some of the activities.
The Executive Secretary, NSC,Mr Hassan Bello,  who made this known in a chat with newsmen in Abuja stated that the strategic collaborations such as the ones  with the  Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and others are aimed at  ensuring effective service delivery.
Bello said, under the new plan, trains are going to be used to evacuate Cargoes, thereby avoiding the perennial traffic on ports access routes.
He pointed out that the need to adopt electronic methods in ports operations has become  necessary and urgent because of lack of enough facilities  to contain the challenges caused by the perennial gridlock around the ports.
According to Bello,  diversified means of transportation  will reduce gridlock at the ports which will also reduce the cost of doing business. 
His words, “Three days ago, we had a meeting with NRC, NPA, the terminals where we strengthened the issue of the Standard Operating Procedures for rail.
“The most important thing is to make sure ports are efficient because , if ports are efficient, then a lot of benefits will be accrued to the government and the entire Nigerians. Many sectors will say, I contributed certain amount to the GDP and we want transport to also be contributing to the GDP”.
While underscoring the contribution of  transportation in driving the economy, Bello stated that the  President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration was working at ensuring diversification of the country’s transport system.
“There is no doubt about it, transport drives the economy, and what are we talking about, it’s all about infrastructure, employment, content, and so on.
” Our dependence  on the road has cost us a lot, or has stiffened and made it impossible for transportation to make expectant contribution in terms of revenue, in terms of employment and infrastructure.
“But the government is trying. Like I said, if not for COVID-19, we will not be having gridlock, we would have connected the rail to the ports.
“The Federal Government has made a policy statement that all ports and I hope this will include dry ports would be linked with rail. If not for COVID-19, the Chinese will have linked not just Apapa but Tincan with rail.
“Now connection of the rail to the port is significant, because it will do two things,  for every trip the rail makes, 38 trailers are removed from the port.
According to Bello, apart from rail, the NSC is also  considering water transport by moving cargoes through the inland waterways.
He said the council was also working with the Nigerian Customs Service  to ensure speedy clearance of cargoes at the ports
“Because of lack of scanners , cargo is cleared after 100 per cent physical examination, now  this is a primitive way of doing things and it causes so much delay.
“ So scanners will be redeployed very soon we have been at it with Customs, it takes five hours for a container to be examined physically and then cleared but when we have the scanners it will take five minutes”, he said.
Bello added that agencies under the Ministry of Transport have come together and have established a forum for Chief Executive Officers to look at the problems in the sector and derive speedy solutions to them.

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