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Maritime: Why Heads Of Maritime Agencies Agreed On 24-Hour Ports Operation To Commence In Nigeria

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.

Jamoh: DG, NIMASA, A Maritime Revolutionary

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.

Hajia Hadiza Usman: MD, NPA

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.

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Stephen Ubanna

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