CONGESTION: CEO, Kotik, says ‘TICT is now up to its capacity’
… Calls for concerted efforts to normalise situation
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Tincan Island Container Terminal Limited (TICT), Mr. Yehuda Kotik, has given the “real facts” of the congestion at the concessionaire’s terminal at the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), Apapa, Lagos, saying “TICT is now up to its capacity.”
Responding to emailed questions from SHIPS & PORTS DAILY via same format over the weekend, Kotik explained that he was responding to our enquiries “in order for TICT to provide the real picture, as those who have criticised us are not aware of the real facts, and their motivation behind this criticism is only to try to capitalise on it in a selfish way.”
On if there is congestion at TICT, Kotik said: “TICT is now up to its capacity.”
The congestion, according to him, started at the end August, during the public holiday to mark the Muslim festival, Eid el Fitri, when neither the personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) nor those of the cargo scanning service providers were working, and followed by a weekend, all of about five days that customers did not come to take delivery of consignments.
“As we deliver about 900 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) per day, you can imagine that around 4,500 TEUs were stacked. But at the same time, we had continue to discharge containers from vessels. If you look at the yearly statistics, you can realise that each year, as from July, there is an increase on the import volumes, and this, all together, is only a part of the congestion,” the TCIT boss said.
On the reason(s) for this congestion, he said: “There is not only one reason; there are several reasons for it. In order to understand it well, I want to mention that when the Nigerian Government went on the port reforms and decided to concession the port terminals it was because the terminals handled by NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority) were not efficient and the aim was that those terminals will operate in the highest standard like any other modern terminal in the world. Indeed, it was a brilliant idea by the Nigerian Government. However, the terminal operator is only one component in the port complex. Port operation is a whole chain of operations and the terminal operator is only one link of this chain. We, as terminal operators, have invested a lot in infrastructure, equipment, sophisticated technology, working methods 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to bring this terminal to the highest standard.”
Raising the question on “what are the other links in the chain that unfortunately, contribute to the congestion”, himself, Kotik explained that, while TCIT operates round-the-clock, all other parties in the port “are working regular working hours different from other ports in the world,” coupled with poor performance that creates “big backlog.”
The TCIT boss went on: “In each port in the world, the dwell time of import containers is three to five days. In Nigeria, the average is about 20 days. We hold the importers and their clearing agents responsible for this. As we have built a terminal gate with several lanes in and out, the NPA Gate remained the same without any change for the last seven years, and it creates a bottleneck that slows down the traffic. The transportation infrastructure around the port is poor and the whole traffic system is slow, and slow traffic around the port is one of the causes of congestion.”
Saying that “it is absolutely not correct” that alleged lack of equipment at the terminal is fueling the congestion, the TCIT boss said that the company has invested in equipment five times more that it has committed in the Lease Agreement with the NPA/Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
On if it is true that TICT is profiting off the congestion, Kotik said: “How can we profit on the congestion if it became an obstacle to bring more cargo. Unfortunately, there are other parties in the industry that are trying to make a profit of it. The answer is absolutely no!”
On palliatives offered customers in the face of the current challenges, he said: “We are taking the following measures: Convincing the shipping lines to stem to our cargo to off dock (Base 1) that has 3,000 TEUs capacity we are covering the transportation cost without any additional cost to the importers. We have provided waiver for storage to importers for days of delay, even we are not to blamed or liable for it. In order to speed up the process we have hired additional 12 trucks. There are additional five RTGs (Rubber-tyred gantry cranes) and yard tractors and trailers in the pipeline as part of our long range strategic plan.”
On the way out of the current logjam, Kotik said: “If all the reasons I have mentioned will be fixed and, especially, if the importers and their clearing agents will take delivery of their cargo and not use the terminals as warehouses for their containers.”
The TCIT boss added: “We can do everything, and even we will invest 10 times more, but without collaboration of the other links of the chain, nothing will be improved. Only when those other players in the port industry will show real responsibility than you will see a big change in the Nigerian ports for the benefit of the economy and the Nigerian nation.”