By Stephen Ubanna
Dakuku Peterside, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is not happy man. Peterside source of unhappiness is that there are no dedicated ports in the African Continent, particular Nigeria to handle particular cargoes as obtained in Europe, United States of America and other parts of the world.
Note that there are about seven major ports in the country. They are the Lagos Port Complex. Apapa; Tin-can Island; Delta port, Warri; Calabar port; Rivers Port,Port Harcourt; Onne port and Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone port.
The NIMASA Director General appears to have taken up the challenge to sensitise policy makers in the nation’s maritime Industry on the need to dedicate t one of the seaports in the country to handle a particular instead of throwing all the ports open to both General and oil related cargoes.
. Peterside may have spoken his mind at the four-day Oil Trading and Logistics Expo, (,OTL 2019, held at Oriental Hotel ,in Lagos where he was said to have suggested the ‘’intoduction of dedicated seaports to handle particular cargoes’’ as a way of improving the efficiency of shipping in African Continent . This is a big challenge to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transportation and Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director , Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA,overseeing the nation’s ports.
Many see the OTL forum, as a veritable platform for the recognition of key stakeholders who have played significant roles in the advancement of the nation’s maritime sector, which had already seen NIMASA picking an award for its contributions to the growth of shipping, which has helped in no small measure to the development of the nation’s downstream sector.
The annual OTL Africa Downstream Week, which is widely acknowledged as Africa’s biggest platform for downstream oil and gas businesses, was said to have brought together experts and stakeholders in the Oil and Gas including the maritime sectors of the economy across the continent and beyond to’’ discuss the way forward for the shipping industry’’’.
The theme for this year’s Conference, which is the 13th edition was “Achieving Downstream Competitiveness through Growth, Innovation, and Technology.” In his keynote address at the Conference the NIMASA boss was said to have identified measures that could help to improve efficiency and service delivery in the nation’s maritime sector.
David Oboma, a Ship Captain, who was said to Have represented the NIMASA Director General, who was in the Asian country of Singapore, on invitation to attend International event, where Tersoo the agency Safety Officer won an Accolade for the country.
Given his knowledge of the maritime Industry, worldwide, he noted thatthere are several measurs the government should give serious consideration if we are to improve upon the efficiency of the ports. He insists that NPA must reduce vessel turnaround times of vessels at the nation’s ports terminals to minimise logjams, which have a ‘’knock-on negative effect on the entire system chain’’. This is in addition to the introduction of dedicated ports to handle specific cargoes, as obtains in world leading ports, stressing that it would enhance the ports ‘’service delivery and efficiency’’.
The NIMASA helmsman in one of the sessions was said to have spoken on ‘’Ship to Shore and Efficiency of Shipping Petroleum and Crude Oil Cargo’’, where he called for “Improving the draft capacity of the ports, particular, the south eat ports of of Warri, Calabar and rivers Port, Port Harcourt, by dredging the neglected ports to widen the scope of vessels which can berth . R in orderecall that the shipping Companies and their agents had abandoned the south east ports over the years because of the shallow draft. He disclosed that dredging the ports would help to eradicate the need for Ship-to-Ship transfers at the high sea.
“ He however, noted that in striving for efficiency, at the nation’s ports, policy makers and those saddled with the day to day running of the ports ‘’must not forget safety is a key consideration in shore to ship operations.”
Emeka Akabogua maritime Lawyer and Ibok Ekwe Ibas, a Vice Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, who was said to have been represented by Kunle Olaiya, a Rear Admiral and Director of Operations, Naval Headquarters and McGeorge President, Ship owners’ Association of Nigeria ,SOAN,McGeorge Onyung; President of Nigeria Ship-Owners Association NISA, and CEO, Sea Transport Services Nigeria Limited, Aminu Umar; and Aisha Ahmadu Katagun, Group General Manager, Shipping, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, were also said to be at the OTL forum.
Umar, who could not hide his feelings in one of the sessions, was said to have bemoaned the amount of bureaucracy that had continued to hamper the ease of doing business in Nigeria’s territorial waters identifying ‘’insecurity as a persistent menace to the nation’s maritime sector as it meant high cost of doing business in the country.
Onyung, on hos part, lamented the absence of Nigerian-owned vessels conducting business within Nigerian waters, insisting that there was an urgent need to empower Nigerians to own vessels. This where NIMASA has to prove to Industry stakeholders that that it would not shy away from empowering the Indigenous shipping Companies to compete with their counterparts all over the world.
Industry experts may have used the opportunity of the OTL forum to push for fully owned Nigerian vessels to be given the chance to lift crude oil, noting that it would be a big boost to indigenous shipping and job creation.
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