The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has identified inefficient operations at Nigerian ports as negatively affecting productivity in the manufacturing sector. President of MAN, Mansur Ahmed, disclosed this to New Telegraph in a chat in Lagos. Ahmed noted that efficient operation of the Nigerian ports was critical to industrialisation and seamless operation in the manufacturing sector.
He, however, bemoaned the experiences by the business community, local manufacturers and other port users in the hands of Nigeria Customs Service officials and other government agencies. According to him, the challenges at the country’s ports are hydra-headed; from the gridlock on the access road, delay in clearing of cargoes, high and undue demurrage to poor port equipment, among others. He added that notwithstanding the various port reforms by government, much has not been achieved. To address this unfriendly situation, the MAN president is calling on government to review the current status of the ports and address all port related challenges. Moreso, the industrialist suggested that it was important to consider developing other ports outside Lagos State so as to decongest the Apapa and Tincan ports.
He added that the challenges of cargo clearing had been persisting for long and importers also continue to face constraints at the gateway. According to him, there are concerns about the interception of containers that have been duly cleared by the Nigerian Customs Service at the ports. These interceptions are undertaken by another arm of the Service. He noted: “Investors have expressed serious frustrations as a result of this repeated and overlapping process of cargo clearing and release processes. “This underscores the imperative of proper harmonisation within the customs service to minimise the frustrations and pains of investors.
“Investors are concerned about the absence of credible and independent dispute resolution system between the Private sector and the Nigerian Customs Service. There are frequent disputes around classification and valuation with profound implications for variation in costs of imports. “Private sector operators in the economy are extremely worried about the difficulty in registering companies (including manufacturers and multinational companies) for fast-track cargo clearing arrangement. “The procedure has become extremely bureaucratic, making it difficult for companies who ordinarily should enjoy Fast-track, to be denied the opportunity.” He, however, said: “We will implore the government to take a critical look at the concerns that have been expressed by business operators and address these concerns in the interest of the investment environment and the advancement of the Nigerian economy.”