The Nigerian Port Consultative Council PCC, a private-sector advisory body for the port industry has expressed reservations over the inability of the country to achieve the United Nations 48-hour cargo clearance benchmark after several years of projections, a development he blamed on the total absence of automation of the port processes.

Chairman of the PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin, who made this known, spoke during a training session organised for maritime journalists by the Nigerian Ports Authority in conjunction with the Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organisation, in Lagos Monday, insisting that the dream of automation has eluded the country due to lack of inter-agency collaboration.

According to him, apart from Nigeria’s rich endowmenst in natural maritime resources, the country spends in excess of $18billion annually on importation of foreign made goods, while over $1.2billion worth of goods enter Lagos alone annually through informal sources even as over 60 per cent of the West and Central Africa is domiciled in Nigeria, insisting that the country has all its takes to manage wealth not poverty.

Folarin blamed the situation on the problem of endemic corruption, as many stakeholders would want to continue with the one-one transaction, which is more expensive and waste more time for obvious reasons

He also attributed these developments to the absence of inter-agency collaboration and the needed structures among the various government agencies in the industry, which form the channel for the implementation of the policies of programmes of the government, proposing that the country should either adopt the port community network or the single window platform.

Some of the consequences of the lack of synergy and absence structures among government agencies, according to him, include loss of competitive edge, among several others. He however listed the benefits of adequate collaboration to include higher compliance level to trade laws and policies, higher enforcement of rules, efficiency, regional competitiveness, and increased revenue and also open new areas for discussions and activities.

It was gathered that the immediate beneficiaries of these would be the port community, most of who currently lack awareness and in-depth knowledge of the mandates of these agencies, as they would address issues of executive capacity, lack of technical /commercial competences among these agencies, among several other benefits.

On the way forward, he proposed that the agencies should adopt the principles of Reform, Restructuring and Regulations RRR, which according to him would entail reforming the port industry, the agencies and the enabling laws, many of which he said are obsolete and out of tune with global trends in international trade practice.

On the other hand, the restructuring would eliminate conflicts and over-lapping functions of the agencies and their supervising ministries while regulations monitor the performance and compliance to the various laws of the land, question the issues of the inability of the agencies to perform optimally due to ministerial conflicts.

Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, Lagos council, Dr. Kazeem Akinreti, while speaking at the event, urged media practitioners to embrace training and self- development to make them globally relevant since most of the media houses are not financially buoyant to undertake such training and capacity building.

Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Yinka Adagun, who is a former General Manager at the Traffic Radio, in his opening remarks, thanked the organisers of the event for taking out time to train newsmen for them to properly inform the public and urged them to full advantage offered by the training session.