Physical examination of cargoes causing port congestion —NPA MD

MANAGING Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has stated that lack of scanners at the ports, which has caused all cargoes to be subjected to a physical examination by men of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), is the major reason for  congestion at the ports.

Responding to questions during the 3rd Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum held in Lagos recently, the NPA boss also lamented the huge number of abandoned vessels on Nigeria’s waterways.

The NPA MD, said “a serious challenge we have at the ports, which I think might have been overlooked during the Ease of Doing Business initiative, is the issue of scanners at our ports.

Right now, all the cargoes that come into Nigeria are being examined physically. If you look at the tonnage of cargoes that come into Nigeria, and all of them being subjected to physical examination, that automatically translates into congestion.

“We will like the Honourble Minister of Transportation to intervene in this regard so that the Customs can deploy scanners at our ports. Scanners at our ports will facilitate the examination of cargoes. With scanners, there won’t be need for waiting time, where a terminal operator will have to position a container and different agencies of government then queue up to examine its content.

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“I don’t know how it is possible for the Customs to physically examine all the tonnage of containers that come into Nigeria”

On abandoned and detained vessels, Hadiza Bala Usman lamented that once there is a downturn in fishing or oil and gas business, vessel owners just allow their vessels drift on Nigeria’s waterways pending when they have business for it.

“We have written to the minister to institute a wreck insurance policy for vessels. With this in place, if a vessel is coming into Nigerian waters, the vessel must carry a wreck insurance policy, so that if the owner abandons the vessel due to whatever reason, the insurance company of the vessel will be asked to come and take it away.

“There are also the issues of detained vessels. There is a huge number of vessels that are being detained by the Nigerian Navy, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies.

“These vessels are just drifting on our waterways, thereby constituting impediments to free flow of navigation. I have approached the Chief of Naval Staff on this issue and we hope a solution can be found soon for these drifting vessels.” She said.