Barely two week after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) announced the introduction of the e-payment solution for all revenue collections at thew various ports across the federation, the Port Manager, Lagos Ports Complex Apapa, Mr. Nasir Anas Mohammed has described the new payment system as a big plus to the maritime sector.
Mohammed who was speaking in an interview with journalists at the end of the stakeholders meeting at the conference hall of the Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Area Command said that while unwarranted wasting of time on the part of the NPA would have been removed by the new platform, efforts were on to encourage other government agencies at the ports to embrace such initiative in order to avoid unnecessary delays and enhance easy facilitation of trade.
According to him,” I think it is a bi plus for the industry because, the idea of wasting time as it concerns NPA has been removed. There could be some wasting of time from other government agencies but we all believe we will continue to encourage them to also bridge the gap so that the vessel that comes in will not have any course to delay because for any shipping company, any delay means money, any delay of about one day amounts to 20 thousand to 30 thousand dollars”.
You can imagine if a vessel is delayed for two or three days, you are thinking of 70 to 80 thousand dollars and obviously, that cost will be passed on to the consumers”.
He disclosed that what obtained presently is a situation where it takes an average of between two days and three days within the port vicinity and around five days outside the port vicinity to get confirmation of payment made to the authority which comes with a lot of delays and setbacks pointing that it is only on the confirmation of ones payment will NPA transact business with the person or company.
He also said that with the introduction of the e-payment solution which is expected to commence between the 3rd and 10th of March, 2014, all the delays that come with payment confirmation would have been a thing of the past since NPA will confirm payment immediately the money is paid in the bank by a customer.
The Lagos Port Manager observed that NPA had embarked on sensitization campaign in the media to get its stakeholders and customers to acknowledge the import of the new platform and embrace it as it was fashioned out in their own interest.
On the standard of trucks operating within the port, Mohammed hinted that the complex was working towards standardization of trucks that go into the port saying that they wanted trucks that were capable of performing the duty of lifting cargo from the ports and take it to anywhere that they were supposed to go.
He stated that the authority was trying to synergize with the various trucking associations to get the standard trucks and to ensure that only standard trucks get into the port adding that they were engaging them in discussions and understanding.
“We have what we called minimum templates that will be observed by all the trucks that will come into the port. Right now, like I said, we are engaging them in discussions, any moment from now, when we believe we have satisfied ourselves with discussions and engagements, then we begin to implement and ensure that only truck that meet the minimum standard that are allowed to operate at the port”, he said.
On what penalty to be meted out to offending drivers that litter the port access road with their trucks thereby causing obstructions, he said, “ when a truck is detained, it means it chained or clamped by a mechanical equipment that does not allow the tyre to move. So you have to go and pay a fine, the fine is a statutory payment to NPA, you go to the bank and pay it and then your truck is released”.
“But the idea is not even that we are interested in the fine, it is to discourage them from littering the ports for no just cause”.