Trade Facilitation: Fed Govt To Commence Single Window Operations At Cargo Clearing Points

Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi

 

The Federal Government is set to switch on the much-awaited Single Window (SW) Platform at seaports, airports and border stations to facilitate trade and achieve 24-hour cargo clearance.

Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by Maritime Services Director Sani Umar Galandachi, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, at the second annual edition of the stakeholders conference organised by The Nation in collaboration with Eipsilon Limited.

The theme of the event is: “Intermodal freight transport: Key to unfolding the potential of Nigerian seaports for speedy economic recovery and growth.

The Nation reported that technical committee headed by Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and officials of ministries, departments and agencies that operate at the ports, has been constituted to drive the single window process and strengthen the maritime industry by boosting efficiency and reducing cost and time of doing business at ports.

Amaechi said the Buhari administration was determined to harness the potential of the transport sector so that it can have an overwhelming positive impact on the GDP,  influence the growth of the nation’s economy through market expansion, opportunities for foreign trade, competition, foreign exchange earnings, and serving strategic national interests like wealth creation and employment generation.

President Buhari, Amaechi said, is also conscious of facilitating intermodal transport system by prioritising the rehabilitation,  upgrading, modernization and construction of the nation’s railway lines and roads, which are expected to be connected with the ports to promote inter-modalism.

The Federal Ministry of Transportation, Amaechi said, is desirous of evolving a world class transportation system by positioning itself as a hub in West and Central Africa through the establishment of a safe, efficient, affordable and seamless intermodal transport system in line with global best practices.

The government, is also creating an enabling environment for Public Private Partnership (PPP) by  embarking on major reforms, initiatives and laudable programmes.

“Therefore, it is revealing that the Day’s theme is apt and would not have come at a better time than now, considering the efforts of the Federal Govenment to diversify and make other sectors function effectively and contribute to the national economy.

“It may interest you to note that the Federal Government’s plan to implement a National Single Window Platform to harmonise trade procedures to drive revenue generation and strengthen national security at land borders, sea and air ports has reached advanced stage.

“A technical committee under the chairmanship of the Vice President with membership from relevant ministries, departments and agencies that operate at the ports was constituted to drive the process. The technical committee co-chaired by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) recommended the establishment of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called the National Trade Platform (NTP) with three units, namely the single window (imports ans exports), scanning services and port community system,” Amaechi said.

The interest of all stakeholders, the Minister said, is being harmonised by the government for realistic implementation .

To ensurea cordial and harmonious relationship and reduce inter-maritime agency conflicts, the ministry has initiated routine meetings with its agencies to address concerns and ensure collaboration to develop the industry.

According to the minister, to institutionalise all legal and regulatory reforms, the Federal Government, he said, is seeking amendment or alteration of obsolete bills to achieve best practices.

Stakeholders at the conference said the single window is a laudable initiative, which a country like Nigeria ought to embrace to transform the ports.

Dr Obajuluwa Oluwasanmi said the single window platform would enhance trade competitiveness through improvement in import, export, transit procedures and information sharing system among the government agencies.

The facility, he said, would ensure that there is a paperless Customs declaration, compliance and online approval on all exports and imports coming to the country.

The current 100 per cent physical examination of goods, according to him, would be reduced and all government agencies at ports integrated.

“The single window facility will also need to be supported by legislation from the National Assembly

“The National Single Window is the ultimate in port operation. But it must be multi-agencies integrated for it to be successful. The port is a transit point and our ports must be seen and used as such. That is why we have dry ports across the country to decongest the port and NPA as the landlord must have a say.

“The benefits are immense, because on a micro level, it will boost the competitive advantage of our ports and its traders on the international markets while increasing government’s revenue, boost foreign direct investment, introduce simpler, faster clearance, and release processes,” he said

The Government’s attention on the single window, he said, should be focused on the following:

*reducing time and cost of doing business at ports;

*simplification and automation of ports operations; and

*reduction of the human interface and increased transparency among others.