Ministers , Customs boss held Strategic Meeting towards enhancing Ports efficiency, Trade Facilitation

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(L-R), Minister of Transportation, Sen. Said Ahmed Alkali, CG Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi and Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Adegboyega Oyetola during the meeting .

By Innocent Orok

The Ministers of Transportation, Marine and Blue, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation ( NRC) held a significant milestone meeting for Nigeria’s maritime landscape, a pivotal strategic meeting that held at the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy on Monday, 15 January 2024.

The Hon. Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Gboyega Oyetola, Hon. Minister of Transportation Senator Said Ahmed Alkali, Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR and
Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria (Virtual Attendee), held the strategic meeting.

The primary thrust of this collaborative venture was to deliberate and actualize initiatives that would not only open up the ports, but also foster seamless cooperation and trade and facilitation. A key focal point of discussion was the strategic integration of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology (NIIT) to bolster operational efficiency in Nigerian Seaports.

Key Resolutions at the meeting were, Priority on Scanning over Physical Examination, Acknowledging the pivotal role of NIIT in actively decongesting ports. The meeting entrusted the Comptroller General of Customs with the mandate to champion and prioritize cargo scanning over traditional physical examination methods. The also discussed repair and utilization of Scanners.

Immediate action was also endorsed to rectify and optimize all existing scanners at prominent ports such as Apapa, Tin Can Island, Onne, and PTML. Simultaneously, the existing mobile scanners will be strategically deployed to facilitate expeditious cargo inspections.

On Rail Freight to Inland Containers Depot/Dry Ports, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) pledged continued commitment to freight cargoes to Inland container depots/dry ports, a strategic move to alleviate congestion at major ports. Plans were unveiled for the efficient evacuation of containers from Port Harcourt to Aba, with future extensions envisaged for Onne Port.

On bypassing Fixed Scanner during Rail Track Construction,
against the backdrop of rail track construction, the NRC concurred on a pragmatic approach by agreeing to bypass the fixed scanner at Apapa. This ensures the unhindered progression of scanning process during crucial infrastructure development.

Also on Public-Private Partnerships for Scanning Installation and Maintenance.
The meeting advocated for exploring Public-Private Partnerships ( PPP) to oversee the installation and maintenance of scanning technology. This collaborative model aims to sustain efficiency and foster innovation in cargo inspection processes.

“The collaborative synergy witnessed in this meeting underscores the unwavering commitment of the Nigerian government to cultivate a conducive and efficient trade environment. The anticipated implementation of these resolutions is poised to positively impact port decongestion, trade facilitation, and overall operational efficiency and competitiveness”, the statement said.

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