Nigeria: Maritime Stakeholders Recommend Benin Republic Webb Port System for Nigeria

9 November 2021

Stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have recommended the advanced Webb Port system being used in neighbouring Benin Republic to the Nigerian government as a way of achieving port efficiency in the country.

Rising from a town hall meeting organised by JournalNGin Lagos, they identified deeper application of technology as a way to achieving an efficient port system in Nigeria.

The Webb Port system, an innovation of Webb Fontaine, an ICT trade solution provider has merged port administration and services integrating government and private sector players in a manner that saves time, prevent revenue loss and reduces risks associated with smuggling and other port related trade malpractices

While making a presentation at the event, Managing Director of Webb Fontaine Nigeria Limited, Ope Babalola disclosed that his company has assisted Benin Republic in achieving ICT port system that harmonised the country's interests through a single transaction.

He described the system as efficient and productive being a tested and trusted model that links the port community in a virtual room otherwise called single window system

Tankian Coulibaly an official from Webb Fontaine in Benin Republic said his company helped in Beninois government to set up a port community integration system called Webb Port.

He added that the system works to holistically unify all relevant stakeholders in the port community through various modules like e-movement for vessel monitoring and e- release after payment of taxes, duties and other levies through a single transaction before goods are released from the port.

President of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, explained that the Nigerian port regulatory system is lacking legal backing.

While he supported the Webb Port technology backed system, he added that an enabling law making it's rules binding on all members of the port community is needed in Nigeria.

President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Iju Tony Nwabunike said port concession in Nigeria was done before the country started thinking about an industry regulator.

"The legal instrument that should come through a legislation or an amendment to the enabling Act of Nigerian Shippers Council is still awaited. It's almost seven years after President Goodluck Jonathan through a Gazette, granted it regulatory powers on March 2015, but the law is still not in place

"Today we are stuck with corporate deviant behaviours by shipping companies, who undermine our national economic interest for their own gains and enjoy a field day due to lack of powers of sanction by law on the part of government.

"Let me illustrate a small fraction of how shipping companies cheat us to cause inflation because for every avoidable increase and extortion they perpetuate, the final consumers pay more in the market.

"Equipment detention charges of N200,000 per 1×40 container and N100,000 per 1×20 container plus backhand collection of N150,000 on empty containers and many other extorting means have caused cumulative losses of over N1bn monthly to importers, customs brokers and freight forwarders. This figure is likely higher if we do case by case computing nationwide.

They largely have become impediments to government's ease of doing business agenda with their various mode of extorting port users and slowing down trade. As a way of helping the government, who seems helpless in the face of obvious non compliance across board, private sector groups in the port have established compliance teams and this points to our collective inadequacy, "Nwabunike said

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