Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, has disclosed that the Port Community System, a Single Window Information Technology (IT) platform being developed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with the NPA has reached its second phase and nearing completion and deployment by 2023.
Bello-Koko stated this when IMO Consultants visited the NPA on an assessment tour at the authority at its Corporate Headquarters in Marina, Lagos. The IMO consultants have been in the country for over 10 days to understudy the automation platforms at various government agencies, including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) with a view to harmonising them under a single port community system.
Bello-Koko, commended the IMO team for their painstaking efforts at reaching out to all designated agencies and stakeholders and understudying their systems in order to ensure a seamless integration into one port community system, which has become the global practice among most maritime nations of the world.
The NPA helmsman, who stated that digitising the port processes was a priority, said the Port Community System is a platform where everyone could plug in to reduce human interface, improve port efficiency and block leakages.
He pointed out that the IMO initiated a regulation that stipulates that every port should be fully automated by 2025, but the NPA has set 2023 as its target to fully automate the Nigerian ports system. He said the port community system will not do away with e-Customs or other platforms that stakeholders in the port have, rather it would complement them, adding: “The IMO is funding part of the project and the first phase of the meeting was held virtually.
The IMO consultants are in Nigeria and they are currently in Lagos for a 10-day on-the-spot assessment after which they go and come back for the final part.” Bello-Koko, who disclosed that the final part will be funded by the NPA and that on the return of the IMO consultants, they would visit other ports in the country, noted that the system would be a game-changer for the country as it would reduce wastages, waiting time of vessels and make the ports competitive.
“It is something that has been deployed in other parts of the world but we do not have it in Nigeria. We will do whatever it takes to make provision for it in our 2022 budget,” he added. Providing an insight on how far both organisations have gone with the process, Bello-Koko said the IMO consultants were also visiting the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other stakeholders to assess the kind of IT deployment at the agencies.
He said by so doing, the IMO will be able to develop a port community system that will be robust, all-encompassing and bring everybody on board, adding: “This may be the foundation that will lead to the setting up of the National Single Window, which is a requirement for modern port operations that enable trade facilitation and ease of doing business.