Bala-Usman Exonerates NPA from Lapses in Cargo Clearance

Hadiza Bala-Usman
Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman

Eromosele Abiodun

The Managing Director Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman has said the NPA should not be solely blamed for lapses in cargo clearance in the nation’s seaports, stressing that it takes more than the agency to see cargo out of the ports.

According to her, the greatest challenge is to have agencies that are directly involved in cargo clearance play their respective roles seamlessly.

She made these assertions while delivering a lecture entitled; “Driving the Change Agenda through Freight Forwarding,” as part of activities marking the 68th birthday celebration of former President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent (ANCLA), Olayiwola Shittu in Lagos.

She also called on freight forwarders in the nation’s maritime industry to embrace the change agenda of the federal government by raising their capacity so as to enable them practice their profession in line with international best practices.

Bala-Usman said freight forwarders must play an effective role in ports operations, pointing out that today’s customer desire services that are quick, reliable and flexible.

According to her, the change agenda of the federal government makes it imperative for all stakeholders in the maritime sector to be part of.

She disclosed that the NPA had taken steps aimed at improving the freight forwarding in Nigeria in tandem with the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and meeting the expectations of the World Bank on trade facilitation.

These steps, she said, included launching of the provisional, final billing and customer portal module of Revenue Invoice Management System aimed at improving service delivery, partner relationship, create efficient payment method, maximise revenue and eradicate loss and revenue leakage.

Other steps, she enumerated, included the establishment of a committee in collaboration with Nigerian Navy to address Apapa gridlock, the call up system for trucks with shipping companies and achieved collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), to introduce the much-awaited single window platform and the establishment of an inter-ministerial committees chaired by her and co-chaired by the MD of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)
The NPA boss stressed the need for cooperation from all stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector, especially those involved in cargo clearance, to play their roles seamlessly, noting that all hands must be on deck to ensure the success of the single window system so that the country can occupy an esteem place of pride among the comity of nations in terms of global Port operations.

Speaking specifically on the role of the ports in the Landlord Model, Hadiza, explained that overtime there has been misconceptions about the role of the authority in port industry.
“In taking advantage of this auspicious occasion I wish to state that in the current concession regime, cargo operation has been ceded to terminal operators while the residual part of port operations still resides with the port authority.

“These include pilotage, security, fire service and maintenance of common user areas. Since cargo handling has been ceded to the terminal operators, Freight Forwarders will find themselves interfacing with each other to clear goods.

“In the interim we have through our concession agreement been playing a regulatory role to check their excesses and the government is in the process of perfecting the regulatory structure institutionally to make it more effective so that things like tariff that could possibly create exploitation by the terminal operators will be checked, “she added.