In reaction to the recent unfavourable rating on the ease of doing business in Nigeria whose ports have been declared as the costliest places to do business in the world, plans are being finalized to establish the operational model of a National Single Window platform to improve trade facilitation in line with international best practices.
Due for operational launch in the first quarter of 2018, the Single Windows platform, a brainchild of the Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), is expected to sanitize and streamline documentation and financial activities of government agencies, operators and other stakeholders in the maritime and allied sectors.
In April this year, a study conducted by leading accounting firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, which asserted that Nigerian ports had the highest cost of doing business in the world, justified importers’ preference for the ports of neighbouring countries in the West Africa region.
Due to the consequential loss of revenue and the security implication the scenario presents to Nigeria, NPA and Nigeria Customs are in a race against time to commence the public tender process of selecting the vendors that will deploy the required information technology infrastructure for the Single Window platform.”
M&P gathered this information from the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman at the One day National Conference on Fast-tracking Port Reforms, themed Making Nigerian Seaports World Class in Lagos on Thursday.
Usman, who made a case for the ports as a strategic base for economic development, stated that automation of port procedures and infrastructure would bring about improved efficiency, which would stimulate economic growth and in turn, impact positively on the economy.
The NPA chief said that developing the ports was very crucial in helping the Federal Government achieve its development objectives and acknowledged that the Single Window platform would go a long way to eliminate human interface which usually breeds corruption, reduce cargo dwell time at the ports, and move Nigeria closer to actualizing the elusive 24-hour cargo clearance target.
Also speaking, the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi noted that the establishment of a Single Window platform would increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the nation’s port system, thereby leading to increased revenue generation and economic boom.
“The establishment and implementation of a Single Window platform is geared towards elimination of multiple agencies and the creation of a single clearance and payment desk as a vital reform measure with immediate impact in the ports,” he said.
The former Governor of Rivers State described the project as a major constituent of his administration’s goals in the maritime sector.
He pointed out that other targets set by the federal government in the sector include: providing enabling environment for modernization and expansion of existing maritime infrastructure; improving efficiency and transparency through private sector partnership; increasing trade flows and economic activities and making Nigeria a hub for international freight and trade in West Africa.
The minister highlighted some strategic projects currently being executed to increase competitiveness at Nigerian ports.
He said “The Lagos-Ibadan railway line currently under construction is designed with an extension to the Lagos Port Complex Apapa, to achieve an intermodal transport system associated with first-class ports.”
“Not too long ago, the NPA launched a Command Control Centre from where all activities in Nigerian Ports can be observed and monitored. In addition, an Integrated Port and Maritime Data Centre has been established to generate reliable trade data readily accessible by all agencies, operators and stakeholders to eliminate system manipulation.”
Amaechi added that there were also plans to implement the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) as well as adopt an Integrated Advance Cargo and Customs Clearance System, with scanning, sealing and tracking (SST) capabilities.
He assured stakeholders that with the enactment of relevant legislations such as the National Transport Commission Bill (NTB), government would continue to pursue relevant reforms to guarantee unhindered operations and enhance national growth and development.