The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that it will commence the e-payment revenue collection on the 3rd day of March, 2014.
This was made known by the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NPA, Mr. Olumide Oduntan during a one day sensitization forum on the E-Payment Revenue Collection held at the Eko Hotels and Suite, Victoria Island, Lagos on Thursday.
Odutan noted that NPA was ready to commence the new process immediately but would rather wait to discuss with the stakeholders in order that they may get their input on how to make the new process more efficient and better.
“We are actually ready to go live today but we thought it will be wise to discuss with our stakeholders and also have some input from them. We are planning to go live between the 3rd of March and the tenth of March, even though we are ready to go live today”, he said.
The Executive Director revealed that about eighteen months ago when they assumed office, it took between three days and five days to get payment to NPA confirmed and that with the little application of the e-solution, the trend reduced to between two days and three days.
Oduntan said that the platform when fully operational will further reduce the turnaround time of vessels significantly from about three days to four days to one day.
Speaking on whether NPA have enough infrastructures on ground to support the new platform, he stated that NPA would be relying on the infrastructure that is being provided by Interswitch adding that all NPA needed to was for its internet service providers to be up and running.
He hinted that they needed to ensure that all the NPA Port Managers and their Accountants have good laptops to ensure that they can have access to the internet real time whenever they need to.
Mr. Oduntan further informed that although the authority was not expecting any challenges, the authority had put a mechanism in place to address any challenge as it occurs.
On whether NPA will immediately phase out the current payment process, he said,” we will want to run the current system side by side with the new platform but one would expect that customers and stakeholders will need to move away from an inefficient process to a process that is better”.
If they continue to use the old process, they will continue to work two day to three days for their transactions to be concluded whereas if they move to the new one, it will be done in ten minutes to fifteen minutes”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Haib Abdullahi stated that the drive for a robust engagement was the realization that there was a direct correlation between the levels of revenue collected by the authority and her capacity to provide infrastructural facilities or fund other transformation initiatives that would engender economic growth within the port environment and improve service delivery to their stakeholders.
Abdullahi went ahead to say that consequently, the Management unveiled three key initiatives which includes to identify and block all revenue leakages, invest in massive infrastructural renewal and development geared towards deepening the channels to attract larger vessels and to automate and integrate their various ports nationwide using the same information technology platform thereby improving efficiency and reduce manual intervention in their processes.
According to him,” the Nigerian Ports Authority acknowledges the problems our customers and other stakeholders have encountered in making payments for business dealing with us”.
“Complaints of delays in payment confirmation, leading to vessels delay and other harrowing experience a common place. We have therefore, responded with a solution that guarantees multiple payment channels and reduces reconciliation challenges to the barest minimum”, he said.
He mentioned some of the benefits of the e-transaction to include, instant payment confirmation, elimination of human interface in the payment procedures, improve vessel turnaround time and reduction of cost of doing business in ports which impacts the national economy.
He further disclosed that the introduction of this platform would eliminate delay in confirmation of payment of provisional bills across the ports, long documentation and payment confirmation procedures, unnecessary delay of vessel in the port awaiting payment confirmation leading to demurrage payment by ships and delay in the 48 hours clearing process.
He therefore believed that the terminal operators, shipping companies, leasees and other stakeholders will take advantage of the platform that has been provided to improve service delivery with the Nigeria Ports Authority.
Highlights of the sensitization forum were demonstration of the workings of the new platform by the Service Provider, Interswitch and the various port managers and their Accountants as well as a question and answer session with the stakeholders who expressed their satisfaction with the new process.