NPA: How Mrs.Olotu Repositioned LPC, As Hajia Usman Led management Reviews Barge Operational Licenses, Imposing A N50 Million Bank Bond On Operators

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By Stephen Ubanna

When Hajia  Hadiza Bala usman, Managing Director,  Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, redeployed  Fumilayo Olotu,  a former Port Manager, Calabar port, Cross river state, to Lagos Port  Complex, popular, LPC, in south west Nigeria, in July, 2019, Maritime analysts were optimistic she will take the premier port  to another level  that will make it the  first choice for shippers and shipping companies in  the West African sub-region.

Hajia Hadiza Usman: MD, NPA

 This is because of her singular  marketing  efforts   which turned  the dead  port around  that  shipping companies and their agents   which had abandoned the port over the years started taking their vessels and cargoes to the  south east port. Investigations by  The  Value News shows that between July, 2019, that  she left the  port and now, the  shipping agents have continued to take their vessels to the  port.

This is evident going  by the  number of  ships at the Calabar Pilotage District that had called at the port between June  8, 2020 and June 12, 2020. The port  recent shipping Position obtained by The Value Newws  shows that  Delta Queen, with INTELs Nig. Ltd, as the  agent,  MT .Hanson, which has  Karina shipping as the agent,  MT. Ayasu, brought in  by Peejay Shipping  , MV. Calabar marine, which is linked to  Pan Marine  as the agent  and  MT. UNGESHI , associated with Blueseas as the shipping agent called at the port to offload their  imported cargoes.

 The shipping  Companies vessels  were said to brought  different range of cargoes to the port. Take for instance, Intels, an oil service company, which  was said  to have offloaded  an oil rig at theport, MT. Hanson 15,000 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, Peejay vessel but MT. Aysu offloaded 1,500 metric tons of LPFO.

  Other expected vessels , expected from the Calabar Pilotage to the port include Allison  Shipping,  Seagle 1-Star, Kach Maritime vessel, MT. Seymour,  MT.AMIF ,  owned by  Peak Shipping, WAPS’ MT Orchad and MT.St. AMRAH,  including Sea Grace, which has Jerome Shipping as its  agent.  According to reports from the port traffic Department   the vessel,agent, Jerome, are already waiting  for the arrival of the  vessel to the port in order to take delivery of its cargo for documentation.

 Other vessels   at the Calabar Pilotage DistrictJune 12, 2020 and June 30, 2020.going by the port shipping position  are between  that had arrived the port between Monday, June 8, 2020 and Thursday, Juune, 11, 2020, include MV, Sea Grace, Eagle I-Star, MT Seymour, MT AMIF, MT Orchad and MT .S. AMRAH. The ship agents were Jerome shipping, Allison shipping, Kach Maritime, Peak shipping, WAPS and  Blue Seas Maritime respectively.

The vessels ,expected day of arrival at the Calabar port, going by the shipping position  are between June 12, 2020 and June 30, 2020.   MV Sea Grace  is expected to offload  Imballast at the port, Eagle  I Star, 14,499,757 metric tons of  of Bulk Wheat,  MT. SEYMOUR and  MT. AMIF, 15,000 metric tons of petrol each.  MT. Orchad and  MT. AMRAH, are expected to discharge  7931,059, metric tons and 16,000 metric tons  of PMS , respectively. This may have informed why  Calabar is  described as the home of PMS , importers  in the south east.

Mrs: Olufumilayo Olotu: Port Manager, LPC, Apapa

    Mrs.Olotu, who had left the  Calabar port about a year ago is very happy that her efforts at turning the once dead port around  was not in vain as her successor , had sustained the records.  Many see the improved shipping activities at    the Calabar port as  a welcome development  but pleads with the government to dredge the pilot  to attract   big ocean going vessels to the port like Container vessels.

  The LPC,  which  had proved  very difficult  to manage by past Managers of the port   because of the size  and  large staff strength , may have forced  Mrs. Olotu to change her style of  managing  the traffic situation at the   port by bringing in’’ creative innovations  of doing   business   in order to make the port  more attractive to shippers , shipping Companies and their agents’’ .

  They believe that Olotu’s ,best in port management appear to have shown  with the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of  China emerged coronavirus pandemic, popular, COVID 19.  While other Port Managers are complaining of low cargo traffic to their ports  as a result of the Pandemic, shippers, shipping  companies and their agents   struggled to take their cargoes to the Apapa port because of the structure she was said to have  put on ground  that had met the  demand of Customers .

Insiders told The Magazine that  the Pandemic , may have forced may shippers, Shipping Companies and their  agents  who in the past patronised, Cotonou  Terminal and Bollore port, in Benin Republic, to  take delivery of their cargoes,  particular, General merchandise, to  relocate to the LPC. This may have swollen up  the  Bulk cargo, General Merchandise  and Container  vessel   traffic at the port, that  virtually all the berths  at the various terminals  are usually  occupied at every point in time, leaving one or two vacant.

The Sunday, June 8, 2020, shipping position, alone of the  port,  made available to The Magazine  shows that there  were 18 vessels, comprising of  12 Container vessels and seven Merchandise vessels awaiting clearance to sail to the port and berth to offload their imported cargoes .

The document  shows that the Containerised cargoes   include  Yangtze, which has  Hullblyth Shipping Company as the agent, RHL Conscienta and  Zim Kingston  brought  to the port by LANSAL  while the  remaining Container  vessels: Maersk Crdiff,  Maersk Cardiz, Maersk Cape Town,  SafmarineChambal, SafmarineChachai, Maersk Cabo Verde, Maersk Cameroon,and Wiking, were  Maerskline vessels with the Marsk line , Nigeria as the agent.  CMA CGM Nig  and  GAC shipping Companies , were said to have also taken their Container vessel: CMA CGN LAPIS and Seaspan Ningbo stemmed respectively  to APMT, which makes the LPC, one of the busiest ports in the West African region. 

 Alraine vessel, Equinox Dawn,  GMTS  , Tong Da and Hullblyth’s Yangzetze were  said to be awaiting Clearance  to sail to the port with their   General  cargo to offload at  the port as   APS shipping  is awaiting to get the nod   from the port  traffic  Department to sail to the port to discharge its  imported Frozen Fish.  Vintage Olotu.  

There are other vessels : Tiger Pioneer, , Genco Provence , Navigator Capricon, Super Emma,   Desert Unity,   and PIA –stemmed, which have  APS, Bluse Star, Caverton, Coastal Service, Dalimfiz, Golden, WAPS  and  Wolid respectively , as shipping  agents   that were still being expected  at the Lagos Pilotage District between  June 12 , 2020 and June ,20, 2020  in order to sail to the port.The expected five vessels at the Lagos Pilotage District , were said to  be  coming to the  port with  imported  General cargo, Butane Gas,  Buk Wheat, AGO/Jet AI and Soya beam.

The NPA  Authorities may have known that at the rate which Container vessels are  calling at APMT and Tincan Island  Container Terminals that it had to review the operating licenses  of the barge  operators to facilitate  the evacuation of Containers at the ports. Until, the  Hajia Usman led  NPA, took the decisison to do so, they  had known  that there were lapses  the old arrangement which needed to be corrected.  

It was not surprising why the Management  had  to take the bold initiative to review the operational licenses of the barge operators to ensure that only the serious  ones  are allowed to remain in the business. Jato Adams, General Manager, the Authority  Corporate and Strategic Communications  who gave an insight  to the Management  decision, reportedly said that   the  fee of the barging licenses   still remains at N100 ,000.00 . This is in addition to a N50 million  bank  bond  in order  to know the operators that are serious to do business with NPA.

Although, the licensed barge operators have commenced the  evacuation of Containers at the Lagos ports of Apapa  and Tin can Island, to  the terminals,  Kelikume  Edeme, President, , Barge Operators Association of Nigeria, BOAN,  has given his words that they will Cooperate  with  NPA,  to curb the proliferation of illegal operators in the business.   He , however, expressed the concern  over the  number of days  spent to lift Containers to  Ikorodu Lighter Terminal,I LT, and other terminals outside the port environment.

As a prelude to the operators return to the  business, Edeme, the BOAN President confirmed  that  the overtime cargoes  at the APMT, have been computed, showing how committed and dillegent , Mrs. OLotu, the Apapa port Manager could be in discharge of her duties, in order to  make the job of the barge operators easy.   

 He lamented that the delay  add up to their operational costs which is not too good for the business. Note that the adoption of barges as an evacuation model of Containers at the ports was said to have been adopted by Rotimi Amaechi led ministry of Transportation in 2016 in order reduce Congestion at the  ports.

The conduct of the barge  operators  may have  become  very worrisome that  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, had to intervene to save the  government revenue. The Customs Comptroller General, may have intervened to put a halt  to the use of barges  in the evacuation of Containers from the port, because  the intelligence report at the Custom boss  disposal  that the use of barges to evacuate Containers  from the port was a fraud as Containers  were allegedly diverted to illegal warehouses.  The   two parties were said to have reached a meeting point  before   the barge operators were  asked to return to work.

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