Through Godwin Oritse
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency, NIMASA, has taken delivery of aerial surveillance equipment to combat the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, GoG.
Disclosing this in his Twitter account, NIMASA Managing Director Dr Bashir Jamoh said that these “special mission helicopters, alongside the special mission aircraft and the UAV drone system, will collectively be the air component of our architecture. integrated maritime security.
“We are committed to monitoring our waters for our economic prosperity.
The problem of piracy has become a nightmare for ships sailing in the Gulf of Guinea, as attacks against them have become recurrent, a development which has prompted European shipowners to put armed guard on board their ships or impose restrictions on them. war zone loads on such trips.
I look forward to a better future for the maritime industry — Hassan Bello
Nigerian shippers face various challenges including difficult port access routes, illegal charges and unfriendly customs clearance procedures, cumbersome paper documentation in the customs clearance process, shipment security and many more.
In this interview with Godfrey Bivbere, the Executive Secretary and Managing Director of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Hassan Bello, spoke about the actions taken by the Council to address the challenges.
There was a recent case of the theft of a 40ft cocoa export shipment by a union operating from Ibadan. What is the Shippers Council doing in the face of such an incident?
It is necessary to formalize the transport of goods, as it is now, internally, it is not formal. We rely on common law principles that are out of date. We should have a modern law on commercial transport and therefore the Shippers Council has proposed legislation, a bill on the transport of goods by road and rail, which states that those involved in transport should be regulated.
We also need to evolve the minimum standards that the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, are doing. When you do that, you will find that instead of a multiplicity and fragments of operators, you have about 20 trucking companies; they must be standardized.
In addition, the Shippers Council is looking for a way to renew the fleet or help renew the truck fleet of carriers to get all old trucks off the road. But we have to do it when they are organized and structured.
What is happening is informal and my biggest fear is that the maritime sector will fall into the informal sector?
Everything must be standardized, there must be a contract of carriage between the owner of the cargo and the carrier; there must be insurance and other obligations arising from individuals. If now you have a truck and I say bring that crate of eggs from Port Harcourt to Kaduna and there was an accident and everything perishes, there is no compensation, there is nothing.
People will say it’s God’s will, but it’s not true. Investors fear investing in Nigeria because there is no law, standard bill to say that this is a contractual relationship between the transport owner and the user of the transport system.
Before this law comes into effect, what happens to the shippers, or the exporter in the case of the incident I mentioned earlier. Exporters have to be very careful in that they have to know to whom they are entrusting their cargo. They should have a contract with them, I know that because access to the port has become a problem, which we hope will end around March of this year with the rail and the others; but you still find pockets of informal problem issues.
Exporters must therefore be very careful and know who they are entrusting their cargo to.
Another problem is the movement of goods by barges, is there so much illegal activity going on?
Yes, there are because there is no one to watch them and that is why we said that it was necessary that the regulations and standards be developed by the FRSC and the NPA. For barges this is a welcome development but it is not regulated and we have set up a committee made up of the NPA, NIWA and NSC to look at these issues.
The barges are not regulated, which is dangerous; you don’t know the specs of the barges, the load they could carry, if there is insurance, if they could do it at night and so many other things are left to the whims and whims of the operators.
It shouldn’t be; we have a meeting to develop regulations. Our concern is distance; if there is an accident, it is the cargoes that would be affected and possibly lives, and it is very dangerous. We need to intervene, but because of COVID-19, a lot has stopped right now. We need to step in to make sure things are done right.
How long are we waiting for?
In two weeks, I’ll tell you what’s going on.
How much is the estimated amount spent on depositing the containers?
We spent 670 million naira two years ago on container depots. It’s awkward and we don’t want it; we want to use the money for more productive activities. People have to return the containers on the due date. To be fair, the contract is frustrated because there is no access to return these containers. And they charge importers demurrage, which is not fair.
We have looked at what is happening in other countries where you can have it as insurance. It needs to be insured so that instead of the 300,000 N we pay as a deposit, you can pay an insurance company 20,000 N and they will make sure your container is returned.
It is because of this haste; rush to escape demurrage as you see lots of trucks on the road with empty containers for the return.
This empty container regime should be looked at comprehensively.
What is NSC doing to make Nigeria a dumping ground for empty containers, knowing that there is a shortage of empty containers around the world, especially in China?
The Shippers Council and the NPA are working on a plan that for every container a shipping company brings, you have to take it back, otherwise you won’t receive a certificate of navigation.
Also, what we want is that when you bring in an import container, we should also have a loaded container to come out. It is to aggregate or encourage exportation.
All the distortions you see are due to the traffic situation of Apapa, but now the rail has been connected to the port of Apapa and we are there with the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, trying to see how there would be a mass evacuation of containers by train.
What is the volume of freight that can be transported from the port by rail?
It can take 50 percent of all containers. This is great because it also lowers the price level. There would be competition; truckers have competition, and there are also barges. So you have a multimodal approach to the delivery and evacuation of goods. The infrastructure failure is being addressed by the government, the roads have been repaired. We have Creek and Liverpool Road, Mile 2 – Oshodi – Tincan Island Road. I’m sure he’s treated; we have completed this and you will notice that the access to the port is free.
NSC is pushing for the digitization of the port; we have just received the latest report that one of the shipping companies has achieved 100% compliance; it was 40%. One of the terminals is at 98 percent. A terminal that was previously at 18% is now being digitized and they told us that by the end of March they would visit me to see the level of digitization there.
The NPA is pushing for a harbor committee system and that’s great. The harbor committee system will allow us to do all of these things.
It is not only for the terminals to have digitization, but other users have to integrate into the system integration, where we have a one-stop-shop, where we see everything that is happening. Banks must be part of it, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, must be part of it.
Does Customs subscribe to the digitization initiative?
Yes, they are ahead of digitization; we have e-Customs; when it’s done, everyone is integrated, a lot of things would be easier. I look forward to a bright future for the maritime industry. Even now we take containers from our competitors; Nigerian ports are doing better than their competition despite COVID-19 and everything in between. There is some level of improvement in operations by terminal operators and shipping lines, as well as freight forwarders.
When do we see the realization of this digitization?
By the end of March, we plan to reach 90%, we could even exceed that figure.
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