September 26, 2022

Maritime Today Online

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Shippers’ Council, NPA, others collaborate on joint vessel inspection

Hassan Bello

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as well as other government agencies responsible for inspecting ships have agreed to collaborate for joint vessel inspection as part of efforts to reduce the turnaround time of vessels calling at the nation’s ports.

Under this arrangement, all agencies involved in inspecting ships will go onboard together to carry out their respective inspection as contained in their Acts in less than 30 minutes.

Speaking at a meeting of agencies at the NSC headquarters in Lagos on Thursday, the Executive Secretary of Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, noted that joint boarding of vessels is the international best practice around the world.

According to him, the European Union and the entire global shipping community have complained incessantly on the delays at Nigerian ports, which also lead to economic consequences on the nation.

He said, “Shipping is time-bound and we face serious competition from other ports in the region. Why should Nigeria have 22 days ship turnaround time when our neighbours achieve it in 7 days?”

“I’m happy with the collaboration and commitment of all the government agencies and this development coupled with the impending disappearance of traffic gridlock would see shipping plays its significant role in Nigeria’s economic development.”

Also speaking, the General Manager, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Mrs. Eniola Williams who represented NPA Managing Director, said that there will be sanctions for agencies that fail to comply with the new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for inspecting vessels.
“Each agency has its law with sanctions for offenders and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi at the launch of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) emphasized the need to invoke sanctions. This is what we are going to do because the NPPM is empowered statutorily and with directives,” she said.

Noting that NPA desires to have the leading ports in Africa, she stated that, “in attaining that, we need to ensure that our processes are timely, efficient and free from corruption. NPA is taking this very seriously and we are working with other agencies. On the issue of joint boarding, this refers to people who represent Nigeria on-board ships from other nations.

“The people who come in via these ships are making first contact with Nigeria through thatjoint inspection and it’s good we display integrity and take it seriously.”

Speaking on behalf of Customs, the Deputy Controller, Administration, Idiroko Border, Deputy Comptroller Dera Nnadi,stated that integrity has to be prioritized in the joint exercise, stressing that each agency should provide its mandate with respect to onboard ship inspection.

Nnadi suggested that the mandate of various government agencies on ship inspection should be availed the NPPM team and they should be measured with the reports from ship captains after inspections.

The Customs boss also harped on the need for the joint team to engage shipping lines to prioritize integrity, noting that some shipping companies have adopted integrity as their watchword and security agencies know some shipping lines where there are hardly sharp practices.

Highlight of the meeting was the inauguration of a Port Standing Task Team to enforce compliance with the SOPs and NPPM to make the maritime sector efficient and competitive.