IMF decries absence of scanners at Lagos seaports

NEWS DIGEST–The International Monetary Fund has lamented the poor roads, lack of single-window platform and absence of scanning machines for Customs operations at the seaports in Lagos.

The IMF Mission Chief and Senior Resident, Representative for Nigeria African Department, Mr Amine Mati, stated this on Friday when he took a tour of Nigerian ports as part of compilation and publication of the IMF Economic Outlook Review for 2020.

The IMF team was hosted by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello.

Members of the team visited three Nigerian port terminals: the APM Terminals, Greedview Development Terminal owned by Dangote Operations and the PTML.

Mati said the delegation from IMF was on the visit to inspect the port activities and determine the challenges, the priorities and policies put in place by the Federal Government.

He said “We were able to discuss the port congestion and noted that the clearance time still remains challenging. We are trying to determine the different policies and priorities put in place, particularly the scanners.

“National single window is very important to accelerate the process. The roads outside the port are also important for efficiency.

“As trade is picking up, the port is an important aspect of Nigerian economy, particularly in Lagos where the activity is.”

The IMF representative said the organisation carried out annual check of the economy to determine the performance and challenges, adding that the visit to Apapa was part of the team’s field work.

He added, “We are also meeting with the government, private sector and so on. Our report would be published after March 30,” he said.

Bello said the IMF Economic Outlook review was very important to Nigeria, especially now that the country was facing economic challenges in diversification of source of revenue.

Bello described Nigerian ports as major port in North and Central African subregion, adding that it was the largest economy in Africa.

Nigerian ports, according to him, attract 40 to 60 per cent of all the cargoes in the subregion.

He, however, lamented that 12 years after the ports were handed over to concessionaires, there was still lack of efficiency.

Bello gave the assurances that the shippers’ council was working with the shipping companies to reduce the cost to about 30 per cent and that both parties would soon go into an agreement.

He said that for now, there was 100 per cent cargo examination going on at the ports due to lack of scanners in the ports.

He however said by the second quarter of the year, all the challenges would have been addressed.

He said, “We need to be open and transparent; we have to reduce the corruption at the ports and we need to automate the ports for faster clearance of cargoes.

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