COVID-19: NIMPORT chairman says IT optimisation key to maritime industry rebound

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The Chairman, Nigerian International Maritime Ports and Terminals (NIMPORT), Mr Fortune Idu, says Information Technology (IT) optimisation is key to the rebound of the maritime industry after the COVID-19 pandemic, and should be part of the recovery plan.

Idu said this in an interview with newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday.

According to him, a recovery plan is one put in place to help companies, organisations and industry to respond to sudden change, disruption in business place and help them to bounce back.

He said that generally, the transport industry was about the biggest hit as a result of COVID-19 pandemic; particularly export and import trade which was adversely affected.

The chairman said the lockdown affected the logistics industry as a whole, maritime and international trade facilitation, movement of people to carry out business and signing of contracts, among other things.

“There is a new normal now, economy is struggling to recover, most operators within the maritime industry are advised strongly to look at business continuity plan, the recovery plan to help one respond to emergencies like this.

“This is the time when the recovery plan should become active to help businesses bounce back, and this can be done through IT optimisation,” he said.

He noted that the pandemic was a major sudden change and disruption the world had never seen before, but companies who had this plan put in place before might not experience the magnitude of what was happening now.

Idu said that most companies had various types of recovery processes such as downsizing, restructuring, mergers with other companies and acquisition to become more effective, because disruption like this comes with some challenges.

“Now, for one to survive this time, you need to optimise information technology tools because some of the meetings are done on virtual platform; that means you need to communicate with people at long distance without actually being in physical contact with them.

“Companies that are in this industry that are not responding to the new normal will have a problem, and so the need to adopt the recovery plan of optimising IT facilitation,” he said.

Idu said that the pandemic threw up challenges in the industry; restriction of movement, most businesses opened partially, a lot of companies downsized, documentation processes were affected, and there was serious manpower shortage.

He said that optimising IT in the maritime industry would tackle these challenges and limit people’s visit to the port complex.

The NIMPORT chairman said that cost management was key to business recovery process as inflow had reduced, as some companies had shut down on importation, and the dollar exchange rate in Nigeria had shot up.

“IT optimisation must take the front burner, companies have to cut down on non essential movement, not just cargo. and it will tackle the table to table documentation that rings about human error.

“We will keep on doing our normal things bearing in mind the COVID-19 protocol as we know that a healthy personnel is a healthy company, as people being exposed will bring more problems for the industry,” he said.