The deployment of modern technology has been identified as a key factor in the increase of exports throughput from 30 to 35 percent annually in the last three years at Apapa, Lagos port.

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Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, disclosed this yesterday, Thursday, September 7, while speaking at the 3rd JournalNG Port Industry Town Hall meeting held in Apapa, Lagos.

The NPA boss who was represented by the Port Manager, Apapa Port, Mr. Charles Okaga, stated that the deployment of automation has enabled the Authority enhance its operations leading to increase in exports from 30 percent to 35 percent in the last three years.

“For our total throughput for Apapa port, we have about 35 percent export. Since 2021 export moved steadily from 30 percent and it also increased further in 2022. This is attributable to the establishment of the NPA Export Processing Terminals to eliminate factors that act as a clog in the wheel of logistics and ease of doing export business.

“We must also note that we have enjoyed port stakeholders buy-in and support from several government agencies. It is also worthy to note that the presidency through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has played a key role in driving this agenda with NPA,” he said.

He also noted that Export Processing Terminals presently enjoy technologically enhanced connectivity to ports and other infrastructure like Truck Transit Parks (TTPs) which simplify the access to ports and eliminates delays that formerly led to expired Agro-Exports.

The MD explained that the vessel waiting time at the berths have been reduced to few hours, describing this as a major development from the former 1-6 day waiting time.

Also speaking, the Area Controller, Kirikiri Lighter Command, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Timi Bomodi stressed that Nigeria’s hope of attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into the blue economy sector wouldn’t be realized without adequate data to guide investments.

Bomodi, however, opined that automation could be channeled towards the collation of such vital data to guide local investments, government policies and ultimately attract FDIs.

The Customs boss admonished all port stakeholders to develop and publish their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and ensure they adhere to these SOPs to avail port users a high degree of certainty on port processes.

According to him, the absence of SOPs at ports leads to ambiguity and hampers the ease of doing business.

However, the President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Prince Adewale Adeyanju expressed concern that the rapid introduction of technology and innovations in the maritime domain will lead to massive job losses.

Adeyanju advised the relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that such technological advancement aren’t at the expense of maritime workers.

In his welcome address, the Publisher of JournalNG and convener of the summit, Mr. Ismail Aniemu stressed that talkshop is expected to set the tone for a credible and viable maritime agenda for the maritime industry.

“Today we have a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, but the concept of this year’s theme was prepared several months ago. At that time, we never knew that the government would create a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy out of the existing Transport Ministry.

“Nevertheless, we know that in blue economy there are numerous low hanging fruits for economic diversification in Nigeria.

“Stakeholders and experts in this industry have used this talkshop to project their views which are encapsulated as recommendations for the government to consider. We also maximize the advantage of the mass media to propagate the issues emanating from the summit,” Aniemu said.

The event which was well attended by stakeholders in the public and private sectors, had the theme ‘Essence of Automation to Productive Blue Economy’.