Agents award APM Terminals high marks
… Describe terminal operator as a pacesetter
Founder of the umbrella body of freight forwarders in Nigeria, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, has praised the efforts of APM Terminals Apapa Limited in boosting efficient ports operations in Nigeria.
Aniebonam, who was guest at the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) Round Table held at the International Maritime Press Centre, Apapa, Lagos, last Friday, said that APM Terminals is doing its best for Nigeria.
Aniebonam said: “I do know that Nigeria is not the only place that they (APM Terminals) are working. I am also aware through my strategic position that even the government of Ghana – because I have the privilege of having a friend who is in the Ghanaian government – came here to hold a meeting with APMT and that has to do with the level of work they are doing here. That means if some people outside Nigeria appreciate them; why can’t we appreciate them?”
The NAGAFF Founder also decried what he called pull-him-down attitude against the global terminal operator.
“Anybody can wake up, just like I am here now, and make a pronouncement that somebody is owing them N1 billion, as the case may be, but you may find out that when you now ask him to come and put his facts together, it might become an issue. So, those who have written the letter wrote it to appropriate authorities, and, if there is any need for government to address such issue, they will find out. But I think APMT, so far, is trying their best, but you know we have developed this attitude of destruction you know – pull-him-down – which people like myself suffered the situations of that nature,” Aniebonam said.
It would be recalled that before APM Terminals took over operation of the Apapa Container Terminal in March 2006, there was chronic congestion at the terminal, with vessel waiting time averaging 40 days.
“Everywhere was chaotic. No cargo handling equipment, no defined processes and procedures etc. There was also vessel queue, with ships waiting for an average of 40 days to get berthing space. Consequently, shipping companies slammed what was called congestion surcharge on the port. The congestion surcharges were paid directly by the importers and this amounted to about 200 million dollars per annum.
“Within the first one month of our operation, we eliminated vessel queues at the terminal and by extension eliminated the congestion surcharge imposed by multinational shipping companies under the aegis of the Europe West Africa Trade Agreement (EWATA). We save the importers and the Nigerian economy $200 million (over N3 billion) per annum as a result. At present, ships come in and sail straight into the berth. There is no waiting time at all. This is tremendous and was largely applauded by all. We have received numerous awards for bringing efficiency to the port,” Media Adviser of APM Terminals Apapa, Bolaji Akinola, stated.
With investment of over $200 million in new equipment and upgrades at Apapa since 2006, APM Terminals has not only eliminated vessel waiting times of 40 days which was common prior to port reform of 2006; terminal yard expansions and other improvements have been implemented by the company, raising productivity from 6 moves per hour to the current average of 24 moves per hour.
Experts have commented that the Apapa Terminal’s operational standards have reached parity with European facility operations.
“No one can match APM Terminals’ investment, expertise and commitment. Even late President Umaru Yar’Adua was full of praises for the management of APM Terminals and the feat the company has performed in Apapa when he visited the facility in 2008,” Akinola said.
APM Terminals Apapa has announced plans for a further $130 million expenditure over the next three years, including the purchase of eight new mobile harbour cranes and 13 Rubber-Tyre Gantry Cranes (RTGs), which will increase annual throughput capacity to one million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs).
The terminal is the largest mobile crane-operated facility in West Africa, with nine, and one of the only facilities in the region able to accommodate the new 4,500-TEU capacity West Africa-Max (Wafmax) vessels now entering into West African service.
Akinola said that the company’s investment in Nigeria is not limited to land and equipment, but encompasses its most valuable asset, “the Nigerian people themselves.”
He added: “APM Terminals Apapa granted over 50 scholarships to undergraduates in Nigerian universities in 2012, and funded the refurbishment of the Randle Secondary School, Apapa, including the installation of new computers. We also carry out several other corporate social responsibilities.”