Single Window platform underway in Nigerian maritime, 2017

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All is set for the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to introduce the much-awaited Single Window (SW) platform at the ports to achieve 48-hour cargo clearance next year.

This is coming against the backdrop of a directive by the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, to have a single window platform that will integrate all government agencies at the ports to promote trade among member countries.

“The adoption of the Single Window (SW) platform will strengthen the port industry by boosting efficiency and reducing cost and safe time, which are the major objectives of port concession agreement signed by private terminal operators,” a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF), who did not want to be named, said.

SW is used by many countries to facilitate trade at their ports.

The FMoF official said the adoption of SW would make Nigeria’s ports competitive in the international trade network adding  that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will compel the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies at the ports to key into the SW platform to facilitate trade and generate more revenue.

He also urged the National Assembly to back SW with a law.

The source was of the opinion that Federal Government, will generate additional $800 million annually from the ports and borders, if NSC and NPA introduce the platform.

The amount that could be generated from the platform, the official said, made the NPA and the NSC to champion the introduction of the Single Window platform.

The official identified sharp practices and charges for services not rendered as factors militating against the single window and 48-hour clearance, urging the ministers of Transport and Finance to address the problem.

“We are aware that NPA and NSC are not happy over the past failure of 48-hour cargo clearance policy. Apart for the fact that the delays experienced in cargo clearance disrupted the production schedules of manufacturers as raw materials are not delivered in good time to their factories, they affected their revenue and were responsible for high level of corruption at the port as importers struggled to clear their cargoes under harsh conditions. This, again exacerbate inflation as goods were not quickly cleared from the port to meet relevant needs in the economy and that is why the need for the single window is imperative.”

A stakeholder in the maritime has said the single window is a laudable initiative, which a country like Nigeria ought to embrace to transform the ports. “The platform would enhance trade competitiveness through improvement in import, export, transit procedures and information sharing system.

The facility, would ensure that there is a paperless Customs declaration, compliance and online approval.”

The current 100 per cent physical examination of goods, would be reduced and all government agencies at ports integrated.

“The single window facility will also need to be supported by legislation from the National Assembly.”

“The National Single Window is the ultimate in port operation. But it must be multi-agencies integrated for it to be successful. The port is a transit point and our ports must be seen and used as such. That is why we have dry ports across the country to decongest the port and NPA as the landlord must have a say.”

NPA’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Chief Michael Ajayi, said the Federal Government needed to have the political will to introduce a single window platform to reduce costs and increase the compliance level of importers and exporters.

Chief Ajayi said it was part of measures to be undertaken by the NPA to achieve the 48-hour cargo clearance early next year.

“The benefits are immense, because on a micro level, it will boost the competitive advantage of our ports and its traders on the international markets while increasing government’s revenue, boost foreign direct investment, introduce simpler, faster clearance, and release processes,” he said.

Government’s attention on the single window, Ajayi said, should be focused on the following: reducing time and cost of doing business at ports; simplification and automation of ports operations; and
reduction of the human interface and increased transparency among others.

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