The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council Mr. Hassan Bello says there is a need for the Port Health Services, as the first agency to interact with vessels and crew, to carry out its vessel inspection between 30 – 45 minutes with a maximum of three officers.

However, the Director, Port Health Services, Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo, said this is achievable as long as there is no issue with a ship.

The two chief executive officers affirmed the possibility of the time in a meeting at the Port Health Service headquarters in Abuja where Hassan Bello maintained the need for all government agencies to clean up the ports by embracing orderliness, efficiency and zero corruption by implementing Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM).

Bello described the NPPM as a useful and important manual that all relevant agencies in the port system should abide by.

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council boss added that 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 stated that one area of concern that enables corrupt practices at the ports is vessel agents offering transportation to inspecting agencies.

 This, he noted, should be provided by government or the Port Health Services.

While encouraging the PHS to reach out to the council with any issue, Mr. Bello suggested that the PHS publish infractions committed by vessels calling at Nigerian ports.

Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo, however, explained that inspections can take longer than 45 minutes because of the peculiarities of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has given rise to more activities on board vessels. These include checking the temperature and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test of the entire crew.

He 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.

He added 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.