There has never been a time in history like the last two years, from 2019 when the demand for technology took on a new dimension.
The global demand for technology, heightened by the coronavirus pandemic of 2019 brought home new revelations, new innovations and unveiled new ways of running business.
The online and digital space became king, while creators of app and e-commerce smiled to the bank.
The Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk of this world climbed to the zenith of the multibillionaire triangle and made people who were not so digitally inclined green with envy.
At the height of the pandemic, the scramble for technology became real. There was the new realization that the world had gone completely smart and that there was a need for every hitherto analog system to move with the trend.
Not one to be left behind, the Nigerian Ports Authority, who Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman had since 2016 been advocating a change of the port operation system from analog to digital, immediately started consolidating what she had already put in place.
During the pandemic, Bala-Usman set up digital information systems making it possible for the agency to get feedback from clients and other members of the public.
Also, the authority has an electronic ship entry system that provides fast and effective update about ship arrival for ships visiting Nigerian ports.
This has been the reason for the success of NPA’s daily shipping position which is relied on by both analysts and researchers wishing to get data on goods arriving Nigerian ports daily.
The agency also has an efficient and smart customer feedback system that pops up whenever a customer visits the website.
The feedback system also generates immediate response to customers’ inquiries.
The Automation of the port system as a whole has always been the desire of the NPA under Bala-Usman and she had taken steps in that direction by linking up the authority with Nigerian Single trade window while also developing its own.
By January ending, the authority officially launched its electronic call up system for trucks.
The agency created an app called Eto, to facilitate orderly movement of trucks in and out of the Apapa port and environs.
This, according to the agency, will go a long way in stemming traffic congestion at the port and also restore order to the chaotic Apapa environment.
Listing their expectations from the development, stakeholders who spoke to our correspondents said it would go a long way in reducing the gridlock around the area.
Sunny Nneme, the Chairman of Tin Can Island Port branch of the International Freight Forwarders Association of Nigeria applauded the move, saying that technology has always presented a smart and easy of doing business.
“I believe the app will go a long way in solving the problem of congestion at the port.
“An app is easy to download from a smartphone and with the app, a truck owner can schedule and also track the vehicle’s movement through the port.”
Another stakeholder and the secretary of the truck owners association branch of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers, Godwin Isemin, welcomed the initiative by the NPA, saying that it took a lot of weight off operators.
He said, the app will greatly help our work because now we can have equity in the scheduling of truck call up.
“It will no longer be on the basis of man-know-man the way they did it.
“The system will also end extortion of truck drivers from government agencies and touts.”
On his part, the coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwards, Dr Osita Chukwu, said although the system was good, the implementation still needed monitoring.
He said, “I know that an app is a smart technology. However, I don’t want the NPA to rest on its oars after introducing it.
“They still need to monitor closely because Nigerians always find a way to shortchange the system.
“The NPA should put anti-hacking technology in place to prevent criminals from hijacking the system.
“They should watch out and be very careful to avoid what is happening to the Customs e-auction portal.”
The stakeholders laid emphasis on efficiency, saying that the system had to be very fast to avoid unpleasant experience on the part of truck owners.
Frequent update of the technology and deployment of a very efficient host should not be overlooked, they stressed.
This, they reasoned would serve to avoid glitches and network challenges.