By Eromosele Abiodun
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, has assured stakeholders in the maritime industry of its renewed vigour and determination at improving on its operational efficiency and accomplishments recorded in 2018 in the new-year.
Also, she promised terminal operators and port users that it would further open its doors for all players to surmount various bottlenecks with a view to providing a healthy and smooth environment for all stakeholders.
Bala-Usman, who stated this in a statement over the weekend assured port users of NPAs renewed efforts towards the swift evacuation of cargoes from the Nigerian Ports to the hinterlands and Nigeria’s land locked neighbours.
While recalling the Ease of Doing Business introduced by the federal government, she disclosed that the NPA had partnered with notable organisations and the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing for the reconstruction of dilapidated roads within the Ports axis for efficient Port Services across board.
“Management would sustain and step up the culture of efficiency and transparency. It reiterates that it has put in place structures to drive this dream through the launch of the Revenue Income Management System (RIMS), which is a web based billing and revenue collection application fully automated for the entire billing circle of the NPA amongst others.
“The authority wishes to inform all, of its desire at improved collaboration with Sister Agencies towards a more seamless operation in the Ports environments with intent to reduce human contact.
“In this regard, it is partnering with the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) for the quick facilitation of the Single Window platform aimed at simplifying and harmonizing formalities, procedures and the related exchange of information which will be a major priority in the coming year.
“Management further assures all willing investors of its renewed determination at attracting investments to the Ports across the country through infrastructural development.
“Management wishes to stress that there has been constant dredging of the Channels to attain the expected draught level for incoming vessels at our Ports. This is expected to lead an unprecedented revenue generation and with the expectation that this effort would further be surpassed in the new-year, “she said.
Management assures all of its unflinching support in building on the successes of the Sector towards the growth and Development of the nation especially in the area of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and economic rebound in the near future.
She added, “Meanwhile, cargo owners are advised to take advantage of the recent regime of incentives including the downward review of charges to ameliorate their financial burden; these include a regime of three free days to 21 free days, for the next four months. The demurrage free period on the return of the empty containers has been increased from the current five days period to 15 days as well.
“Finally, the authority appreciates the unflinching support, collaboration and cooperation from all stakeholders in its drive towards greater service delivery and customer satisfaction.”
Bala-Usman recently called on terminal operators, shipping companies, port managers and allied stakeholders to do all they could to mitigate the effects of the present congestion at the nation’s seaports.
She had said the issue of ports congestion should be of concern to all and therefore they should look into the issue of evacuation of empty containers, increase in free days of storage, wavering of demurrage for a definite period of time, creating a window of some period to accommodate the concerns of importers, etc
She had further noted that government is desirous of getting things done more smoothly, and therefore NPA will do everything possible to facilitate trade in the maritime sector, adding that the Authority would encourage shipping companies to patronize other Ports outside Lagos, particularly Onne Port.