By Godwin Oritse
IN a bid to enhance port operations, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, has directed shipping firms operating in Nigeria to ensure that ship manifests were electronically transmitted to relevant stakeholders seven days before the arrival of the vessel.
Speaking during a meeting with maritime stakeholders, weekend, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, said the council in January came up with a National Action Plan and directed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to look at the shipping firms, with a view to reducing dwell time and ultimately reduce cost.
Oduwole also said the policy was being proposed to make the ports operate seamlessly and enhance cross-border trading.
She said: “The Vice President and the Central Bank of Nigeria have been working with about 10 ministers that have critical roles to play in the business environment. The effort is to make the port operate as seamlessly as possible and enhance cross border trading.
“There are plans to install scanners and establish a single window project. Whatever the policies that the government may come up with, it is to assist shipping firms reduce dwell time.
Chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria, Val Usifor, while expressing the commitment of the shipping companies to work with the government to improve ease of doing business in the country, noted that the delay in the issuance of rotation number by Customs was one of the bottlenecks that must be addressed.
Earlier in his remarks, Executive Secretary, NCS, Hassan Bello, said the council had been assigned to ensure and moderate the transmission of shipping lines manifest to NPA and Customs before arrival of vessels to Nigeria.
He noted that it was the duty of the government to ensure conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive in Nigeria, adding that the cooperation and support of stakeholders would help move the industry forward.
“This meeting is purposely to have stakeholders’ input. The business of enabling business environment is very important and critical to the investment that we have. It is always the aspiration of the government to manage that conducive atmosphere so that the private sector will carry out its business squarely.
“It is the responsibility of the government not only to protect the investors but also guarantee return on investment and this could be done only by giving the private sector the leverage and good atmosphere.
“The purpose of this meeting is to know the challenges raised by the shipping companies and then their request of what to do. We are also here to engage the stakeholders, shippers in particular and shipping lines to discuss the ways which we can move forward,” he said