By Godfrey Bivbere & Sharon Obiakor
The former National Deputy President of ANLCA, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Emenike Nwokeoji, has said that the digital cargo clearing system cannot work in Lagos ports because of the volume of cargo.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard Maritime Report,Nwokeoji noted that Apapa port which was built 60 years ago has had no improvement or modernisation to accommodate facilities for digital operations.
He pointed out that instead of improving on the port, government have succeeded in bringing in manufacturers into the port and there is no rail system in the port to evacuate goods.
The former ANLCA chief said Tin can port has also been crowded with manufacturers and that they have different vessels bringing different materials, finished products coming in and going out every day.
According to Nwokeoji, “Even petroleum products have nothing to do with the Apapa and Tin can ports and the space in these ports cannot take all the activities going on there”.
He however noted that the only thing that could help what is going on in the Apapa and Tin Can ports is the construction of a rail system.
He stated: “We now have people manufacturing in the port, that is not what that place was designed for. Even if they are to do that, the rail system by now supposed to have been moving up to 60% of cargo out of the port. But now the rail system is totally collapsed, Tin can is not serviced by any rail system, meanwhile Tin Can is been taken over by manufacturers. So you have vessels coming in with all materials, you will have vessels coming to take finished products; you will have vessels coming for container not to talk of vessels coming for the stolen product.
“All these things were not there before now. The petroleum products have no business coming into Apapa or Tin Can; we have 100 kilometers of shore line.
“Places in areas like Epe, you can push the tank farm there, let the TinCan terminal be only for containers and maybe cargos. Unless something is done to remove some things, the space there cannot take the activities that are coming from that place.
The only thing that can save it maybe, it’s the rail system”.
On Onne port, he stated: “Onne port is a modern port; almost everything is automated, so you do not need to get to the port. From the comfort of my office I can make payments, track the cargo, and position it without going to the port. You only go to the port to examine the cargo.
“If you walk into my office, you can know the location of your cargo, you do not need to go and start tracing your cargo physically.”
Nwokeoji noted that from the comfort of his office he could access if the cargo has been discharged in the port or if the cargo has been transferred to the terminal.