DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A COMPUTERIZED SEAPORT BILLING SYSTEM
A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY (DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A COMPUTERIZED SEAPORT BILLING SYSTEM)
Nigerian Ports Authority is a government owned organization under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transport with responsibilities of providing specific ports and labour services for the country’s maritime industry.
One of their numerous duties and major functions is the provision of Cargo handling quays facilities. From the inception of this company, the billing system has been manually processed but the port complex is in the early stage of computerization and the manual methods of preparing customer’s bills are delayed.
A computer-based billing system is necessary for handling and preparing of accurate bills for customers. The system will facilitate the prompt preparation of bills, easy retrieval of information, security of vital information and resource sharing among the billing department.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria is a maritime Nation and huge consuming Nation. Most imports and exports are by seaborne; this has necessitated the establishment of seaport in many places like Lagos, Warri, Burutu, Calabar, Koko, Sapele and Onne.
The traditional manufactured import and agricultural exports have since been surpassed by (both in the crude and product form) constituting the greatest item of seaport trade. Storage and distribution of both exported and imported goods have led to the establishment of deports, dry port and demand for extensive road network in the country.
States that traditional producers of agriculture and/or have large oil deposits have capitalized on these to develop their port facilities by putting desired pressure on the federal government through various means, both orthodox and unorthodox.
In recent times, some of these states like Ondo and Ogun have reached advanced stages in their plan to establish a port in their coastline. The economic advantages of having a port are numerous: job creation, economic growth, infrastructural development etc.
In Nigeria, after NNPC, Nigerian Port Authority remains the largest revenue earning parastatal.
In recent times, the Nigerian government has decided and has actually commenced the process of concession of all the Ports (a form of privatization, except that in this case the ports and assets remain the property of the Federal government whilst private operators run the ports).
This is a golden opportunity for states without a functional seaport like Akwa Ibom state to urgently revisit the issue of developing a port in conjunction with foreign investors. The leadership of the states must be in the vanguard of this by setting up a committee who would have come up with a blue print of how to actualize this.
The state leadership has to appoint people of experience in the industry and must be given the necessary support and encouragement to produce the desired result.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The billing system in the Nigerian Port Authority has been plagued by factors based on the current system by the use of draft import debit and import debit note. Some of the problems that attracted me to carry out this research are: A lot of time is wasted to prepare bills files and records are not properly kept and utilized, No proper documentation of information, Errors are easily made and are hardly detected, No proper equipment to checkmate the security of files/documents.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this project is to develop a computer –based seaport billing system that will handle the bills raised for various customers specifically in Nigerian Port Authority (NPA). When the new system is implemented, it will perform the following:
- To increase productivity and time involved in processing data.
- To help reduce the queue (number of client) that wants continuity in the office.
- To calculate provisional bills faster.
- To ensure that information from the system is consistent.
- To introduce UP-TO-DATE report on the bills to help management out in decision making.
- To ensure security protection against fraudulent manipulations.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this study is to computerized Nigerian Port Authority billing system in order to improve their transaction rate of services to their various customers.
SIGNIFICANANCE OF THE STUDY
The need for a study of this nature cannot be over emphasized. It is expected that with the designed system, one realize some important effects the computerized billing system. Some of effects are:
- The chances of frauds of any kind will be drastically reduced as well as error customer’s bills.
- The new system saves times and facilitates the prompt raising of bills as delay brings extra cost to customers.
- Information flow is well maintained and it enhances the top management decision making.
The system ensures ease of processing and hence ensures faster processing of output on customers waiting to collect their personal property.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) operation involves the production of two bills which are, the provisional bills and final bills, but for the scope of this project, only the provisional bill will be considered.
Provisional bill in Nigerian Port Authority is an advance bill given to a customer by the Nigerian Port Authority before the parcel or the ship arrives at the port.
The process of the calculation of this bill is determined by the quantity of goods delivered as contained in the ship. It also has information about the consignee’s weight and measurement of goods in it.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
During the course of this project work, I battled with the following:
- Insufficient Information: Gathering good information about the working principles of Nigerian Port Authority was not an easy task for me.
- Network Problem: The absence of network at times makes browsing difficult and as such limited my time of research.
- Finance: Due to the present condition of our Nation, prices of products have been increased, which limited me from getting some information directly by way of transporting myself or calling.
- Combining school work (test, assignments, examinations etc) almost affected the progress of this project work.
Despite all odds, I was able to produce a defendable work.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
BERTH: A place at the wharf where ship can be tired up, or a place for a ship to swing an anchor.
CONTAINER/CARGO: A receptacle, especially those large rectangular metallic, refillable boxes where goods are to be shipped in. Goods carried by a large means of transportation.
CONSIGNEE: The person to whom goods is delivered over. Also known as the importer of the container
DUES: This is a rate table of hand bill which states the requirement rate for each type of cargo.
FILE UPDATE: This refers to the process of modifying the content of a file to reflect the current change of data.
GROSS REGISTER TONNAGE (G.R.T): It is the total capacity of the ship.
GROUPAGE: When two or more importers come together to improve one or more containers.
HARBOR: A safe place where ships can be load or unload.
INTERACTIVE PROCESSING: A process whereby the users communicates directly with the computer.
MASTER FILE: This is the main database file that holds all current information.
MANIFEST: This is a comprehensive text that contains information about the cargo (i.e. the goods the consignee carries in the ship).
NET REGISTER TONNAGE (N.R.T): It is the capacity used; the internal and cubic capacity of the ship.
PORT: A place (seaport or airport) where people and goods can enter or leave a country.
PILOTAGE: In seaport term, a pilot is a person trained and licensed to take a ship into or out of the harbor.
PROTOTYPE: An original pattern or model built to increase knowledge.
ROTATION NUMBER: This is the number given to the ship that berth at the port for identification purpose.
SHIP ENTRY NOTICE (S.E.N): It is normally sent to the port by the shipping company notifying the port of the arrival of the ship.
SHIP/SHIPPER/SHIPPING: A ship is any large sea vessel that carries passengers or goods; a shipper is someone who ships goods; shipping is the act of sending goods by sea going vessel.
SYSTEM: A set of interrelated elements working together to form a unit to get some output.
TARIFF: Tax on a particular class of imported goods.
TRANSFER CHARGE: The money paid for the services rendered by N.P.A. in transferring the consignment from the ship to the port.
USER: Any person, department or organization served by a computer or a computer based system.
VALUE ADDED TAX (V.A.T): Tax on the value of a product at each stage of manufacture and marketing.
VESSEL: A floating craft used for transport over water.