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NPA hosts IMO as port community system project reaches phase II

by JOHNMARK UKOKO

The Port Community System (PCS), a single window Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platform being developed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in partnership with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has reached its second phase, as it nears completion and deployment by 2023.

Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, disclosed this at the weekend, when consultants of the IMO visited him in his office at Marina, Lagos. He subsequently posted on his verified Twitter handle: “Earlier in continuation of the phase II implementation of the port community system, I hosted IMO consultants, who visited the country on a needs assessment.

Digitising our port processes is on top of my to-do list.” According to him, the IMO has come up with a regulation that stipulates full compliance by 2025, but the NPA has set 2023 target to fully automate the Nigerian ports.

“The Port Community System is not an Information Technology (IT) solution that will phase out the e-Customs or other platforms of stakeholders at the ports, but will rather complement them. We engaged IMO consultants for the NPA towards the deployment of the port community system.

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“The IMO consultants are in Nigeria and they are currently in Lagos for a 10-day on- the sport assessment after which they will go and come back for the final part,” Koko said adding that the final part would be funded by the NPA and that upon the return of the IMO consultants, they would visit all the ports in Nigeria,” he stated.

He assured that the port community system will be a game-changer, as it will curb wastages and waiting time of vessels, maintaining that it would be deployed in other parts of the world, adding: “But we do have it in Nigeria and it will also make our ports competitive and better positioned. We will do whatever it takes to make provision for it in our 2022 budget.”

Highlighting how far the NPA and IMO have gone with the process, Bello-Koko said the IMO consultants were currently holding meetings in the NPA headquarters, visiting offices of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other stakeholders to see the kind of IT development with government agencies and other stakeholders.

He stressed that by so doing, the IMO would be able to develop a robust and all encompassing port community system that would accommodate all interests. “Eventually, this might be the foundation that would lead to the foundation that would lead to the setting-up of the National Single Window, which is a requirement for modern ports, because it enables trade facilitation and ease of doing business,” he added.

On how the NPA was automating its internal process, Bello-Koko said the authority, which currently has the oracle e-business solutions was on the verge of automating all its processes. “We believe that one of the most important things is to deploy IT at our ports to be efficient, because it reduces human interference, improves efficiency and blocks leakage. We are about to start harbour automation, which is our main function.

This will cover the time vessels come in from the fairway buoy for berthing and clearing,” he said. Continuing, he said harbour operations would also engender interference between NPA’s harbour department and other users including the towage company and terminal operators, adding: “We also have multiple IT tools, which we are currently integrating.”

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