In compliance with the presidential directive on the resumption of 24 hours port operations at Lagos ports, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced a 24-hour turnaround time for analysing cargo manifests and issuance of Debit Notes to shipping agents.
The acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had in May this year signed three Executive Orders as part of the federal government initiative under the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to ensure ease of doing business in Nigeria, one of which was the resumption of 24 hours port operations in Lagos Port.
In line with the directive, NIMASA has extended work hours for some staff of the agency in the Shipping Development Department.
NIMASA also said that its offices are also open on weekends in order to accommodate shipping agents willing to do business.
Shipping agents, it added, can therefore access the agency at these times with their manifests for further necessary action after which a debit note would be issued to them not later than 24 hours after submission.
According to the agency, these changes have impacted the overall performance of ports operations by reducing the dwell time of vessels calling the Lagos ports while increasing efficiency of the entire system.
Emphasising the significance of the presidential directive, the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside noted that the long dwell time of vessels calling Lagos Ports was stifling trade instead of facilitating it.
“The Executive Order signed by the Acting President for resumption of 24 hours port operations is aimed at improving efficiency and facilitating trade in Lagos Ports. As a responsible agency, we are committed to implementing this directive and if it means extending work hours or even instituting a shift system, we will.”
The NIMASA boss stated that the new approach to analysing manifests and issuing debit notes will be constantly monitored and evaluated to ensure its effectiveness while automation of the entire process is receiving priority attention.
Already, dwell time of vessels at the ports which had been attributed to delays in issuing debit notes and sailing clearance has reduced considerably.
The agency, he stated, is also expediting action on the automating its processes to allow for electronic submission of manifests, issuing of debit notes and sailing clearances which will further reduce human interaction, improve efficiency and block revenue leakages.
Peterside had recently listed what he termed game changers that will make ports on the African continent to be globally competitive to include investment in world class infrastructure, strengthened regulatory frameworks, enhance institutional cooperation, implementation of one-stop portals like the national single window and adequate Investment in human capital.
He stated this while delivering a paper on the Significance of Maritime Regulations and Competitiveness of African Ports at the conference on Port Development, which took place in Accra Ghana.
In his words: “African ports have fallen far behind our global peers on key performance indicators. Cargo spends nearly three weeks on average in Sub-Saharan African ports, compared to less than a week in large ports in Europe, Latin America and Asia. We are below the global average on three key productivity measures of ports: gross moves per hour, berth moves per hour and man-hours per move.”
He noted that for port operations on the African continent to experience appreciable improvement, agencies in the port community must work together to implement integrated and sustainable solutions to the identified challenges.
He restated the agency’s commitment to strengthening the capacity of ports in Nigeria and enable competitiveness on the African continent via the effective implementation of the Merchant Shipping Act, NIMASA and the Cabotage Act by ensuring that regulating the maritime sector with the use of these instruments does not hinder efficiency and negatively affect business operations in the Ports.