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Blue Economy, Transport Ministers, Customs CG Meet Over Ports Decongestion

R-L: The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola CON; the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR; and the Minister of Transportation, Senator Said Ahmed Alkali; after a meeting on Monday.

As part of efforts to ensure ports efficiency and competitiveness, the ministers of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, Transportation, Senator Said Ahmed Alkali and  Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi met on Monday and agreed that physical inspection of cargoes at the ports must be phased out.

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They reasoned that the use of modern technologies like scanners was important to addressing the issue of ports congestion, so as to ensure efficiency and competitiveness.

To this end, the Customs CG has been charged to enforce the use of scanners at the ports, just as they encouraged private investors to come in and invest in the deployment and maintenance of scanners at the nation’s ports.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the spokesperson to the minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Ismail Omipidan and the Customs spokesman, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, on Monday.

According to the statement, the meeting, which was held at the ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and which had the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria attending virtually, also resolved to ensure a new construction that will bypass the fixed scanner at Apapa, so as to ensure the unhindered progression of scanning process during crucial infrastructure development.

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The primary thrust of this collaborative venture was to deliberate and actualize initiatives that would not only open up ports but also foster seamless cooperation and trade and facilitation. A key focal point of discussion was the strategic integration of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology (NIIT) to bolster operational efficiency in Nigerian Seaports.

Key Resolutions:

“a. Priority on Scanning over Physical Examination: Acknowledging the pivotal role of NIIT in actively decongesting ports, the meeting entrusted the Comptroller General of Customs with the mandate to champion and prioritize cargo scanning over traditional physical examination methods.

“b. Repair and Utilization of Scanners: Immediate action was endorsed to rectify and optimize all existing scanners at prominent ports such as Apapa, Tincan Island, Onne, and PTML. Simultaneously, the existing mobile scanners will be strategically deployed to facilitate expeditious cargo inspections.

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“c. Rail Freight to Inland Containers Depot/Dry Ports:The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) pledged continued commitment to freight cargoes to Inland container depots/dry ports, a strategic move to alleviate congestion at major ports. Plans were unveiled for the efficient evacuation of containers from Port Harcourt to Aba, with future extensions envisaged for Onne Port.

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“d. Bypassing Fixed Scanner during Rail Track Construction: Against the backdrop of rail track construction, the NRC concurred on a pragmatic approach by agreeing to bypass the fixed scanner at Apapa. This ensures the unhindered progression of scanning process during crucial infrastructure development.

“e. Public-Private Partnerships for Scanning Installation and Maintenance: The meeting advocated for exploring Public-Private Partnerships to oversee the installation and maintenance of scanning technology. This collaborative model aims to sustain efficiency and foster innovation in cargo inspection processes.

The collaborative synergy witnessed in this meeting underscores the unwavering commitment of the Nigerian government to cultivate a conducive and efficient trade environment. The anticipated implementation of these resolutions is poised to positively impact port decongestion, trade facilitation, and overall operational efficiency and competitiveness.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600, hubitokoria@gmail.com

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