President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed the Minister of Works, David Umahi to fix all the access roads leading to the nation’s sea ports to boost efficiency, competitiveness, facilitate quick cargo clearance, and grow the GDP.

The directive was disclosed in Lagos, yesterday, by the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyeyola at the 2024 International World Customs Day, organised by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in Ikeja, Lagos.

The theme for the event was: ‘Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose.’The event which is celebrated yearly highlights the role played by Customs in the smooth flow of and transfer of goods across borders.

Speaking at the occasion, Oyetola noted that access roads leading to the ports play a pivotal role in the efficiency of the ports and said that President Tinubu had directed Umahi to undertake urgent and comprehensive repair and maintenance of all dilapidated roads leading to the Lagos Port Complex (Apapa), the Tin-Can Island ports and other seaports across the country.Some of the access roads are 1.6km dual carriage road within the Lagos Port Complex, 3km Tincan Island access road, 15.3km Eleme Junction -Trailer Park Junction dual carriageway at Onne Port and 3.1km FLT-FOT Roundabout single carriageway, also at Onne Port.

Oyetola, while alluding to the fact that the dilapidated access roads are making importers and exporters experience high transportation costs, prolonged transit times, and heightened risk on major roads, urged the importers to use the rails in moving their cargoes to the dry port and reduce the number of trailers on the road.

“The dry ports are spread all over the country. They are still building more. If we are able to do that, and we ensure we use rail most of the time, the congestion of the road particularly which leads to the port will be minimised,” Oyetola said.

He said he was honoured and delighted to deliver a keynote address at the gathering of the stakeholders as they commemorate the 2024 International Customs Day under the theme: ‘Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose.’The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, Oyetola said, “was established by the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with the goal of enhancing Nigeria’s economy by tapping into the vast potential of the maritime domain, valued at over US$24 trillion, supporting 90 percent of global trade, and generating millions of jobs.

”As it has been expressed by the WCO Secretary-General in his message to the global Customs community and their stakeholders, collaboration, the Minister said, “is germane in achieving trade facilitation and the security of the internal supply chain. To this end, we must integrate sustainability into policies and strategies, bolster investments in ports, research, and technology, and, most importantly, foster inclusive alliances among our stakeholders and partners, including the Nigerian Ports Authority, transporters, freight forwarders, shippers, NIMASA, and the Nigerian Customs Service.

”The recent passage of the Nigerian Customs Act 2023, Oyetola said, “creates a favourable environment for trade. It recognises opportunities, addresses challenges, and encourages partnerships between the public and private sectors.

“In this era of increased interdependence, Customs and its stakeholders must work hand in hand to ensure the overall success of initiatives that will help unlock the immense potential of collaboration and increase revenue generation,” he said.

While commending the leadership of Customs for agreeing to abandon the physical examination of cargoes at ports and priotising the use of scanners, Oyetola said, “would not only increase revenue, it will ensure ports efficiency and competitiveness. And it will reduce the cargo turnaround time. It is by committing to cooperation that we can enhance our effectiveness in safeguarding our waterways and facilitating global trade.

“With unwavering commitment, I assure you of my ministry’s support for collaborative engagements with stakeholders in the international trade community, aiming for a more sustainable use of ocean andcoastal resources for economic growth. “I, therefore, urge each one of you to carry forward the spirit of today’s event. Let us not only remember the achievements but also look ahead with enthusiasm for the collaborations and partnerships that await us. Together, we can continue to forge meaningful connections, foster innovation, and truly engage with purpose,” Oyetola said In his message that was relayed at the event, the Secretary-General, World Customs Organisation, Ian Saunders, charged officers to be alive to their duties.

He said, “While this year’s celebration is especially significant for me, its wider importance in part comes from it marking the launch of our new theme: ‘Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose.’

“This year, we are embarking on a path that challenges us to both reaffirm our longstanding partnerships and to boldly forge new alliances. Our world has changed dramatically over the last decade and continues to do so, presenting us with unprecedented challenges, including rapid technological advances, environmental and health crises, and complex geopolitical and economic dynamics.

“These conditions require that the global Customs community take a forward-thinking approach to its work and seek solutions that are not just based on its own knowledge and resources, but are supplemented by the support of stakeholders.

”He noted that the theme for 2024 is a strategic call to action, urging members to broaden their perspectives, think creatively, and embrace innovative approaches, adding.

“This is essential for Customs administrations to maintain their role in facilitating global trade and ensuring security in a rapidly evolving environment,” Saunders said.

At the tail end of the event, awards were given by the service to the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Muhammed Bello Koko, Customs officers and other dignitaries.

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