The Federal Government has challenged stakeholders in the maritime sector to ensure successful implementation of the recently launched Nigerian Port Process Manual (NNPM) to accelerate the growth of the economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, made the call in Abuja at a sensitization meeting of stakeholders on the NNPM, organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
The manual was developed to address operational gaps as well as improve transparency and accountability in the system. It aims at eliminating operational bottlenecks in the port.
It is a step by step trajectory of processes at the ports. It outlines the actors and timelines for each process, it guides the user by highlighting all required documentation, payments, timelines, and responsible agencies.
It equally guides the port operators by detailing the implementation chain and provides clarity on the time required for each process.
According to Amaechi, the successful implementation of the NNPM, would complement the modernisation of critical transport infrastructure being driven by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The maritime sector offers the best alternative for economic diversification, as it has the potential for employment, investments and as an outlet for the facilitation and strengthening of Nigeria’s international trade,” he said.
The minister also called on other organisations at the port to cooperate with Nigerian Shippers’ Council saddled with the responsibility to drive the process and implementation of the process manual.
Amaechi urged regulatory authorities, operational agencies, service providers, users of shipping services and other stakeholders to support and comply with the Government extant directives and provision of the NPPM.
“The NSC, being the lead agency for the implementation, shall coordinate the implementation of the manual and ensure strict compliance with the rules.
“NSC also reserves the right to handout sanctions to any agency, service providers and users of shipping services for non-compliance as provided under its economic regulatory mandate.
“The ministry shall lend its support to the NSC in ensuring compliance with the manual by all stakeholders, not only in the implementation of the manual, but in other areas such as enforcement,” he said.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr Hassan Bello, said that the essence of NPPM was to ensure transparency and efficiency.
He said that the whole essence was to attain world class standard in the maritime sector through the implementation of NPPM.
The manual, he said, was to be instruments of promoting transparency and efficiency in the business environment, and designed to facilitate the ease of doing business and cost reduction.
“We should do as it is done everywhere and it is to make it electronics so that it will be simply adapted,” he said.
Bello said that an effective successful systemic intervention in the port sector would rapidly change the narrative, the perception and the ranking of Nigeria in the Corruption Perception Index.
“This is not just shipper council as the lead agency to coordinate because many agencies had been doing that but we need to make it perfect, we need to reduce the time cargo spent in Nigeria which average is about 21 days now to average of seven days, that is our target.
“As you know that Federal Government is building infrastructure towards this, because it involves so many things, we need to have infrastructure, we need to have the port processes, we need to have attitudinal changes,” he said.
Speaking, Chairman ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, stressed the need for agencies at the port to ensure transparency and elimination of operational bottlenecks in the port.
Owasanoye also urged the Ministries Departments and Agencies to respond to ethics compliance score cards deployed by the ICPC to stem corrupt practices.
“The ministry and the agencies should respond to the card which would indicate area of corruption index and then we communicate our findings, then the management can always take appropriate step.
“Sometimes, the leadership may not know exactly what is going but this would help.
“We encourage all the other agencies that have anything to do with Port including the ministry of transport, to respond to the ethics compliance scorecards.
“Some agencies do not respond, it is the first sign of corruption issues, and we publish last year some agencies that do not response,” he said