In spite of the downturn in the world economy, ship traffic and cargo throughput into the nation’s seaports appears to have significantly improved, an indication that both the Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, and the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, would have a good business year.
This should gladen the heart of the Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, NPA, and her counterpart in NCS, Hameed Ali. a retired Army Colonel. The duo have been working round the clock in over the last three years to make the nation’s seaport operations attractive to compete favourably with other ports in the sub-Saharan African region.
Perhaps, what may have facilitated the improved business at the nation’s seaports in the recent time was the reduced operational expenses, better management control , increased Customers satisfaction, improved Customers service and more importantly , the attractiveness of the nation’s port investors for national development.
This is in addition to the establishment of the Command and Control Communication and Intelligence Centre which is serving as a surveillance of all activities and as an information network for security agencies at the ports, thus giving them the courage to watch over the ports 24 hours to ensure that stakeholders including the shipping Companies calling at the ports are satisfied and importers are happy with the safety of their cargoes without fear of wharf rats.
One of the major problems of the Authority in the past was insufficient tug boats to assist ships sailing to the port to discharge cargoes. Hajia Usman and her management team , appear to have addressed the problem with the procurement and Commissioning of four of such tug boats. The tug boats were named after President Muhammadu Buhari, Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of River state and minister of Transportation and late Tony Aneni h home towns : MT dAURA, MT Ubima and MT Uromi respectively. The fourth one was MTMajya. Indeed, this has improved operation efficiency at the seaports and helped , according to the NPA boss to achieve the upgrade of 25 percent years of the country’s port DevelopmentMaster Plan.
This is evident going by the number of ships that called at the Tin-can Island port alone ,between January and March, 2019, to discharge cargoes. A document made available to the Value News shows that 213 ships with a Gross Registered Tonnage of about 6,778,397 discharged a cargo throughput of about 4,790,282Kg , described an improvement on the figure recorded within the same period last year. Hajia Usman, the NPA, boss is optimistic that the figure would continue to be on the upward rise as foreign shipping companies have found the nation’s port very attractive to do business because of the cargoes that are there to carry to the port from different parts of Europe, North America and Asia, particular ,China and India.
The worry of many was the poor access road to the seaports in Apapa, Lagos which handles over 90 percent of the cargoes discharged at the nation’s seaports. Emmanuel Olajide Adesoye Chairman, NPA, Board and other members , may have been confronted with the problem while on a working visit to the ports in the Lagos Area. They were said to have been confronted with the perennial traffic gridlock on the only access road leading to the port, the Oshodi -Apapa Express Way, that their convoy was caught up on the traffic.
The NPA Board Chairman, was said to have assured stakeholders who trooped their dozens to welcome them to the port that the Board would continue to identify with all efforts of the government to find a ”lasting solution to the problem of the gridlock on the road leading to Apapa and Tin-can Island ports for ease deliveries of cargoes to importer’s warehouses.
Appealing to the terminal operators, Importers with their Agents , NCS, and other security agencies personnel working at the port sand the general public to be calm stressing that the Authority is ”assiduously working in synergy with other government agencies, particular , Federal ministry of Work and Housing and private operators, in cushioning the pressure on the access road leading to the port, with the rejuvenation of the lines , the call up system as well as expanding the port access road to ensure trade facilitation.
Given the gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Express Way , the Authority may have resorted to plan B to use of Badges to transfer cargoes from Apapa and Tin-can Island ports to Ikorodu Lighter Terminal and Kiriki Lighter Terminals, KLT,, Phases 1 and 2.
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