•Regional body initiates cargo tracking, affordable shipping scheme
INDICATIONS emerged that Nigeria may have been losing about N24 billion yearly to delays in the clearance of ships at the ports.
Meanwhile, the Union of African Shippers Council has solicited Nigeria’s cooperation in order to boost affordable shipping as well as provide platform for effective tracking of all incoming and outgoing cargoes in the African continent.
The Spokesman, Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, Bolaji Akinola, said in Lagos Tuesday, that vessel checks were statutory, but the problem was time management.
According to him, ships that come into Nigeria stay for about three hours before they are allowed to discharge their contents.
“On the whole, the ships spend about five hours before leaving and this is costing Nigeria over N24 billion annually.
“Shippers factored this amount into the cost of doing business in Nigeria because they know they will suffer time loss at Nigeria’s ports.
“For every day that a vessel stays in Nigeria, it accumulates a cost of about 30,000 dollars due to time delay, so the ship owners simply transfer that to freight charges.
“When you calculate that amount by the 5,000 vessels, it gives you the said amount of N24billion,” Akinola said.
He said that the situation could improve if cargoes were allowed to be discharged while the checks lasted.
According to him, the checks are done everywhere in the world, but time could be saved if it is well managed.
“Even if we are not automated and do not have the advanced technology that others are using, cargo discharge can begin while the check is going on,” Akinola added.
He suggested that nobody should be allowed to go near a ship it until the checks were completed, stressing that there was nothing to fear since the cargoes would still be inside the ports and could be sanctioned if the importer should compromise.
Secretary-General of the regional regional shipping union, Serigne Thiam Diop, disclosed the cargo tracking and affordable shipping agenda, when a delegation of the African Shippers Council paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar in Abuja.
He noted that the council stands to benefit immensely from partnering with Nigeria, especially through liaising with relevant agencies to promote cargo security and affordable shipping services in the continent.
The union’s secretary-general also stressed that monitoring is a vital aspect of shipping business which it believes closer ties with Nigeria will enhance, adding that the Union of African Shippers Council exists to promote greater cooperation among African countries in the shipping sub-sector.
The Minister of Transport pledged Nigeria’s readiness to partner with the union in any way necessary to boost its objectives.
He commended executives of the union for seeking ways to improve the standard of shipping in the continent, in addition to encouraging participation of Africans in shipping business.
Umar pointed out the Global Shippers Council held recently in London emphasized the need for safe and affordable shipping activities worldwide, and urged the union not to relent in the quest to create an environment for a seamless, safe and affordable shipping activity in the continent and elsewhere.
He noted that the Nigerian Shippers Council was made up of personnel with the requisite experience in the shipping industry, and pledged to make their contributions available wherever necessary.
The minister later called on all member states of the union to ensure sustenance of the achievements of the union, particularly through the consensus appointment of officials of the union in the election scheduled for October.