The Nigerian Shippers Council has pleaded with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the country’s apex bank, on the need to prioritise maritime businesses across the country following the statement of Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) that the non-linkage of the digital portal of the CBN and the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), is affecting smooth export processes at the ports.
Chioma Kelechi-Ahanonu, general manager, PTML commercial, said in the statement that the apex bank wants it to verify the Nigerian Export Proceeds (NXP) numbers of every export cargo as a means to ascertaining the genuineness of documents, but said the terminal cannot do so without Customs, and therefore called for the integration of both systems.
According to Kelechi-Ahanonu, “I will just like to mention the issue of export, which you talked about; [of] which Shippers’ Council has always played the pivotal role. This is an area of interest for the NSC. You organised a couple of training for us, and you were driving the shipping companies to comply.
“We are very compliant on that. We will just like to request that in liaising with other government agencies, to see how between the CBN and the Customs, we can integrate their systems, real-time and as quickly as possible as well, because what we have today is that CBN wants us to verify the NXPs before we move the cargo; we are still there.
“So how do we see these NXPs if Customs have not done their part? So that real-time Customs integration with Nigeria Integrated Customs System, NICIS 11 platform and the other portal has to happen if we are looking at digitalisation as a whole. This area is still there and we have to get that out of the way so that from this end we can be confident to accept any export cargo without knowing whether NXP is genuine or not. We are making the request to you,” she said.
A team led by Hassan Bello, the immediate past executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, said the government has a responsibility of making available the atmosphere for port operations but the central bank, which has been focused on the working of the nation’s economy, should also look into the issue of the port system for immediate intervention.
Bello said: “Government has a responsibility of providing a conducive atmosphere for port operations. The CBN which has been working on the economy of this country and making interventions should also look at the port system and intervene, it is very important. We are pleading with CBN to ensure our exports are going on smoothly. Access to the port by exporters is difficult and some of our terminals are not configured for export because we have not been exporting things for a very long time.’’