By Stephen Ubanna
Barely three years after Vice president Yemi Osinbajo signed an Executive order , as the then acting President Federal Republic of Nigeria, directing a 24- hour operations at the premier port, Apapa, the issue had taken the center state again.
Recall, the he had given Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and her Mangement Team,30 days of the issuance of the directive to resume the operations but that was far he could go.Despite handling over 140,000 ships and 503 million metric tons of cargoes annually, port services in the Asian country was very efficient. He may have been encouraged to take the decision because of the 24 hour-port operations in the Asian country of Singapore which was very efficient . Moreso, the Asian country’s port was said to have developed the template for a 24-hour operations for prompt cargo delivery which is lacking in Nigeria port system.
This time around, the Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Nigerian Inland Water Ways Authority, NIWA, and Maritime Academy Oron, MAN, Akwa Ibom state, all Maritime agencies, are now championing the cause for the 24-hour operations at the Nigerian ports.
The CEOs of the Maritime agencies may have realised that the best way the 24 –hour operation could succeeded in Nigerian ports would be to implement an intermodal Transport system for the port efficiency. Hajia Usman, the NPA, Managing Director, was emphatic on this: the government must give priority to the development of intermodal transportation to be able to reap the benefits of shipping and port activities with the Commencement of the 24-hour operations.
Int the case of Singaporean port, they have shipping activities for office hours and activities after office hours. Take for instance, during office hours, they address ship Registry matters, Crewing matters, Ship Regulatory Development, Flag State/Port State matters, Ship Survey and Certification. This is in addition to Inquirires on Certificate of Competency and Ship Investigation.
The Magazine gathered that the maritime agencies had agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, in order to facilitate the evacuation of cargo from the ports by rail. Given an insider information of the issues discussed at the meeting , Bashir Jamoh, Director General, NIMASA,who had been working round the clock over the last three months on how to improve the port efficiency and government revenue earnings from the ports said ‘they discussed issues bordering on ‘’ maritime safety and security, port efficiency , inter-modal transportation as well as a synergy between the various agencies in the ministry Transportation’’.
They were said to have also agreed to play their respective roles ‘’to facilitate the operation of the 24-hour port service, between Monday and Friday on a weekly basis. Jamoh, the NIMASA , helmsman, had alluded to the fact that the 24-hour port operation service would ‘’help to decongest the ports and impact on the Ease of Doing Business Initiative of the government.
As a prelude to ensuring the take- off of the 24 –hour port service, at the Lagos ports of Apapa, tin-can Island, PTML, KLT phases I and II, and south east port of PortHarcourt Area I, Onne, Rivers Port, Port Harcourt, Delta ports , Warri and the port of Calabar, Cross rive state, Jamoh may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said they had constituted a Committee ‘’‘’to produce a template for the 24- hour port system’’.
Perhaps, to ensure the safe operations port users with the Commencement of the 24-hour port service, they were said to have agreed to carry the Communities around the port environments and beyond. Jamoh, the NIMASA ,Director General, had said that carrying the Communities along in the planned 24- hour port services would go a long way ‘’to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the ports’’.
An elated Jamoh, who had hosted the second meeting of the Heads of the Maritime agencies who could not hide his feelings said the meeting has started yielding results. He cited the issue of the agency Floating Dock which had been idling away at the Nigerian Naval Dockyard, Victorian Island over the years.
Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General of the Maritime Regulatory agency had said that the agency was spending a whopping $30,000 daily as Wharfage charges on the Modular Floating Dock. It was even learnt that the agency was still owing the Naval Dockyard , Victoria Island, $90,000 as Wharfage charges on the idle facility. The idle facility was said to have accumulated a yearly $10.44 million demurrage under the previous administration of the agency. The former Director General was reported to have said that the agency was also spending a monthly $10,00 on skeletal Staff and other sundry expenses for the upkeep of the facility.
Many believe that there was no basis for the money spent over the last two years for the upkeep of the upkeep of the idle facility at the Naval Dock yard, Victorian Island, if the N50 billion Floating Dock had berthed at Okerenkoko, the site of the Nigerian Maritime University, in Delta University in Delta state.
With the thousands of dollars spent for the maintenance of the idle facility at the Naval Dockyard, by NIMASA, Jamoh, the boss is happy that the meetings of the Heads of the Maritime agencies has resolved where to berth the Dock, noting that ’’it would be deployed soon’’.
According to an insider report, it is expected to save the agency $100 million annually and an additional $1 billion in the next ten years through a direct saving from the dry docking of vessels, operating in the country. At present some of the vessels operating in the country are dry docked in the West African country of Ghana.