The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has said that implementation of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) would reduce vessel turnaround time.

Bello made the submission at a courtesy visit to the Port Health Services (PHS) in Abuja yesterday.

Bello who described the NPPM as a useful and important manual which all relevant agencies in the port system should abide by said that its impact on vessel turnaround time would create efficiency.

“Since doing business at the ports is tied to time, there is need for the Port Health Services (PHS) as the first agency to interact with vessels and crew to reduce the time spent onboard by performing their inspection between thirty and forty-five minutes with a maximum of three officers”, he said.

Bello also said that a pre-arrival communication between vessels and the PHS would further aid the process.

“The turnaround time for ships can also be reduced through a pre-arrival communication between the vessels and the PHS so that every activity performed on arrival of vessels on Nigeria’s shores would be for verification alone,” Bello said.

He also emphasised the need to clean up the ports by embracing orderliness, efficiency and zero corruption stating that the implementation of the NPPM would ensure the safety of people who work at the ports and the environment around them.

Bello stated that an area of concern that enables corrupt practices at the ports revolves around vessel agents offering transportation to inspecting agencies. He noted that this facility should be provided by government or the PHS and encouraged the PHS to reach out and publish to the NSC any issue on infractions committed by vessels calling at Nigerian ports.

Meanwhile, Director, Port Health Services, Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo, congratulated the NSC on its appointment by the Federal Government as the lead agency to coordinate and supervise the implementation of the NPPM.

While speaking on the thirty to forty-five minutes vessel inspection quoted by the Executive Secretary, he stated that as long as there was no issue with a ship, it is achievable. He however explained that inspections can take longer than 45 minutes because of the peculiarities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to activities on board vessels. These include checking the temperature and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test of the entire crew. These could increase the routine checkup time,” said Okatubo.

Okatubo further stated that due to the emergence of the new strain of the virus, special attention needs to be given to vessels arriving from Brazil, South Africa and India adding that the PHS is working towards publishing penalties for infractions and is also solidly behind the Council in the performance of its roles and responsibilities.