Stakeholders Endorse Artificial Intelligence as Tool for Port Efficiency in Nigeria

November 1, 2021

Stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have identified deeper application of technology as a way to achieving an efficient port system in Nigeria.

At a recent one-day Town Hall Meeting on Hitch Free Port Operations in Nigeria organised by JournalNG in Lagos, they urged the federal government to consider applying the Webb Port system being used in neighbouring Benin Republic.

While making a presentation at the event, Managing Director of Webb Fontaine Nigeria Limited, Ope Babalola disclosed that his company has assisted Benin Republic in achieving ICT port system that harmonised the country’s interests through a single transaction.

According to him, the system has helped in saving time, producing more accurate results, protecting government revenue and facilitating trade.

Tankian Coulibaly an official from Webb Fontaine in Benin Republic said his company helped in Beninois government to set up a port community integration system called Webb Port.

He added that the system works to holistically unify all relevant stakeholders in the port community through various modules like e-movement for vessel monitoring and e- release after payment of taxes, duties and other levies through a single transaction before goods are released from the port.

Coulibaly said the system also provides e-voyage, e-manifest, e-booking e-payment and e-licence in addition to many other features as approved by the government of Benin Republic in it’s bid to achieve an efficient port system.

He disclosed further that all government revenues in Cotonou port are paid through a single transaction where the installed software distributes accurately due revenue electronically to all the agencies involved.

According to him, beneficiaries of the system which stakeholders recommended for Nigeria are port authority, shipping companies, customs brokers, banks, terminal operators, haulage service providers and others within the port business area.

Also speaking at the meeting, Chief Tony Nwabunike, National President of Association of Nigeria Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) decried what he described as underhand means of extortion by shipping companies in Nigeria.

Nwabunike also called for installation of close circuit cameras along port access roads in Nigeria to detect and prevent crimes.

He said, “Having Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras along our port access roads addresses the challenges of impunity, bribery and extortion along the corridor scientifically. Concession was done; concessionaires took over before Nigeria started thinking about an industry regulator. The legal instrument that should come through legislation or an amendment to the enabling Act of Nigerian Shippers Council is still awaited. It’s almost seven years after President Goodluck Jonathan through a Gazette, granted it regulatory powers on March 2015, but the law is still not in place.

“Today we are stuck with corporate deviant behaviours by shipping companies, who undermine our national economic interest for their own gains and enjoy a field day due to lack of powers of sanction by law on the part of government. Let me illustrate a small fraction of how shipping companies cheat us to cause inflation because for every avoidable increase and extortion they perpetuate, the final consumers pay more in the market.”


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