The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in its ongoing collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has announced plans to implement a 24 hours ports’ operation regime across all Nigerian ports. In this report, TOLA ADENUBI looks at the challenges and benefits.

The idea of a 24-hours port operation across all Nigerian ports have remained elusive over the years due to a multiplicity of reasons which ranges from lack of adequate security at nights to pattern of payment system amongst others. With the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) deepening collaboration across all fronts in recent time, these impediments that have rendered 24-hours port operation elusive, needs to be addressed.


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Top among the requirements for a 24-hours port operation at Nigerian ports is the issue of security inside and outside the ports. The need for adequate security for port officials who will be working at night inside the ports must be looked into. Also, the need for security for truckers who will be moving at odd hours along the ports access roads cannot be over-emphasized. The issue of security for truckers along the nations ports access road has been on the front burner for years now due to the menace of hoodlums and street urchins who unleash terror on truckers along the ports access roads at illegal checkpoints if the truckers refuse to part with unreceipted payments. Many truckers have not lived to tell their stories due to attacks by hoodlums along the ports access roads anytime they refuse to part with money at illegal checkpoints that litter the nations ports access roads. That these attacks happen during the day is a sharp reminder of what might happen at night under the cover of darkness. It’s imperative that adequate security is provided by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) along the nation’s ports access roads and inside the ports if the nation must achieve her goal of a 24 hours port operation.



It is on record that some port terminals are not well illuminated while the roads leading to the nations ports also lack adequate illumination and lightening system. If Nigeria must achieve a 24-hours port operation regime, all the port terminals must have adequate illumination and lightening system which is very critical during cargo examination processes. Speaking with a Customs officer who wouldn’t want his name in print as he has not been authorized to speak on the matter, he explained that adequate illumination of the port terminals will spur port officials to carry out their different responsibilities all round the clock.

“One of the very aspects of cargo clearance process which is very essential is the cargo examination process. This is done by all the agencies of government domiciled inside the ports, with Customs acting as the lead agency during this exercise. There are instances when cargoes become subjected to 100 percent physical examination maybe due to intelligence report or suspicion. In this situation, Customs officers are always alert to check contents of such cargoes meticulously. Under a 24-hour port operation process, this can only be achieved at night if the port terminals are well illuminated. Also, outside the ports has to be well illuminated to ensure mischievous elements do not wreak havoc on port users under the cover of darkness. Even if policemen are to line up the entire stretch of the ports access roads, without proper illumination of the roads, port users can still be subjected to harm or danger from hoodlums who can take advantage of the darkness to perpetuate their evil acts. So, to ensure port officials and port users, including the cargoes are safe, there is need for proper lightening system in and outside the port premises,” the Customs official told the Nigerian Tribune exclusively.



The fact that banking hours stops at 4pm or 5pm during week days has meant that many port users have had to rely on electronic means of payment to clear cargoes from the ports. However, some port terminals still operate physical payment desks inside their terminals and still insist on port users coming to these desks to effect payment for some categories of steps in the cargo clearance process.

Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, a Clearing Agent, Yemi Sofolahan revealed that some port terminals at Tin-Can Island Port don’t attend to online payment for certain aspects of cargo clearance.

“For instance, if you want to get your Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) at APM Terminals, you can get it online and go to the terminal to take delivery of your container. But do you know that some terminals in Tin-Can Island Port don’t issue TDO online?

“These port terminals will insist you come to their office to get TDO. It is these same set of terminal operators that don’t work 24 hours. So, if for whatever reason, you fail to get your TDO from their Payment Desk during the day, then you cannot clear your cargo at night because you have to come the next day to pick your TDO. If 24 hours port operation must become a reality, then all the terminal operators must begin night services. Currently, not all are doing night services, and not all accept certain kind of payments online,” Yemi Sofolahan told the Nigerian Tribune.



With efforts geared towards the attainment of a 24 hour port operation, the nation’s ports will be the better for it due to cargo clearance processes that will now be all round the clock. The situation where port officials close for the day in the evening, thus leading to jobs being shifted to the next day, will no longer be an issue as Customs and other agencies of government operating inside the ports will now run shifts to ensure port operations continue non-stop. Also, shipping companies will now have reduced turn around time as shipping services will continue all through day and night, thereby reducing vessel turn-around time and also leading to a reduction in the cost of doing business at the nations ports.

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