Easing port corridors needs re-engineering of Customs processes, port operations- PCC Chairman

…Customs must create fast-track release of cargoes

Easing the perennial congestion along the Lagos port corridors requires re-engineering some crucial operations and services for improved efficiency; like processes of the Nigeria Customs Service and services of port operators.

Otunba Kunle Folarin, Chairman of the Port Consultative Council (PCC), shared the views in an interview addressing the need for urgent attention to issues of congestion at the ports.

The PCC Chairman gave a sequence of proposed solutions traced after a line of events as they likely contribute to the problem in hand.

He argued for the need to first look at the set-up of the chain of traffic into the port beginning from the ships calls, the terminals where the cargoes are handled, and then the transporters that remove the cargo from the port to destination.

For port operations, Folarin said it was important and necessary to step up piloting service, possibly, 24 hours and round the week.

Speaking on the terminals, he said: “terminals must double up on their equipment capacity and capability. So, that they can do a fast turnaround of the vessel and the throughput of discharging operations.

The PCC chairman noted that for improved efficiency on the part of the Nigeria Customs Service, scanners must be provided, while the Customs must realise the challenge to trade when it insists on doing 100 per cent physical examination of cargo.

He said: “One hundred per cent physical examination of cargo is nearly impossible. Customs must create fast-track release of cargo.

“As for those companies that bring in 100 containers on a single Bill of Lading at a time, they can be released and examination under same kind of supervision at the port, done in the premises of such companies.

Addressing the complexities of having trucks queue up for several weeks, Folarin said there should be marshalling points within the port environment from where trucks should be called for taking cargoes.

“The terminal operators are supposed to provide marshaling points dedicated to their own terminals, not the common-user terminals.

“So, you know that the trucks are coming to take delivery of cargo within specific terminals. And the terminals can set up a call-up system with them, making it faster than the truck coming from Ikeja.

“That kind of structure would make cargo delivery easier. And the terminal will easily receive, discharge, store and deliver cargo,” the PCC Chairman added.

He, however, remarked concerning the challenge truckers face in exiting the main gate of the port after clearance processes from the terminals.

He said: “When truckers now take delivery of the cargo, to exit from the port, they face double processing of documentation check at the gate.  The problem at the exit gate must be minimised as this creates a long corridor of trucks that have been loaded and authorised and waiting for final permission.

Calling for a dedicated lane for trucks exiting the port environment from the gate, Folarin noted that the trucks still have to go through roads being used by commercial enterprises, industrial concerns and other private users to exit from the port corridor, a system that has left all the road users and the trucks in same gridlock challenge.

A solution in that regard, according to Folarin, would be to have a ring road from dockyard for trucks leaving the port, so they would have avoided all parts of the municipal corridor like from Apapa port to Marine Beach.

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