Nigeria to establish trading platform to ease ports congestion

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja


Nigeria is to establish a National Trading Platform that will provide a single window to facilitate the seamless movement of goods in and out of Nigeria and end difficulties encountered by businesses at the country’s ports.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Monday in his remarks at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“I think the permanent solution that we are proposing especially for the whole business of bringing in goods and taking goods out of our ports is a single window, the National Trading Platform,” Osinbajo said at the forum, which had ministers, government officials and business people from across Nigeria in attendance.

He said government has gone far in its plans to establish the single window and expect that it would come on stream very shortly “with the appropriate scanners.”

“We are at the point where this is going to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for final approval,” the vice president said, adding “with a single window a lot of the stress will be greatly reduced.”

Professor Odinbajo said the platform would be established in partnership with the private sector for efficient operation.

Professor Osinbajo said that frustrations people encounter at Nigeria’s ports would be resolved through the use of “I check,” a device “which enables us to get advance passenger information ahead of passenger actually arriving at the ports.”

He said: “This will enable us to do two things: one it enables to do visa on arrival because you have all the information and secondly it would remove the necessity of more than one person checking the passenger because you have advance information.  So, security people don’t need to sit down there also to check information at the same time.  They work from the gadget.”

Railway, port concessions.

Vice President Osinbajo said the concession given to General Electric for the refurbishment of the narrow gauge line from the Apapa Ports, Lagos, South West Nigeria, was part of plans for quick evacuation of goods from the ports.

He said a member of the consortium to whom the Apapa Port was concessioned, APM Terminal, was also working towards building an inland port along the Lagos-Ibadan Railway, which would also ease pressure on the Apapa Port.

He said: “Aside from that, the standard gauge line, which is funded by the China EXIM Bank, has already started.  We expect that by the end of this year, we should see significant progress between the Lagos and Ibadan end of that standard gauge line.  As a matter of fact, our target is to have that bit of it concluded before the end of the year.”

The vice president said that the concession agreement for the eastern ports has been finalized while the technical evaluation has been done and made ready for the attorney-general’s office.

“We expect that that would be sorted out very, very shortly,” he said.

On the Warri Port, he said the technical evaluation was still going on and was expected to move on very quickly.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, gave an overview on the economy and an update on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.

He said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would achieve the objectives set out in the ERGP with consistency and focus.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, also gave overviews on revenue generation and business environment respectively.

There was also an interactive session during which the business people asked questions, made suggestions and appealed for government’s intervention to aid private businesses.

One of them, the National Vice President, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Auwal Ibrahim, called for linkages with the small enterprises with the bigger ones to provide them with labour and raw materials.

Ibrahim also said would galvanize the over 40 SMEs in Nigeria, register them and group them into clusters to facilitate their operations.