The Managing Director of Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML), Ascanio Russo, has identified insecurity and deplorable port access roads as major impediments to operations at the nation’s seaports.
Russo stated this recently in Lagos while fielding questions from journalists.
Russo said while the company provides service 24 hours a day, insecurity has discouraged other agencies involved in cargo clearance to work at night.
He appealed to the government to address the insecurity and expedite action on the construction of the port access roads in order to have seamless port operations in the country.
“We are already working 24 hours operations. We receive vessels all the time and are ready to deliver cargo even during the night but the challenge is insecurity. We need to address the issue of insecurity and congestion because clearing agents are not comfortable to work during the night because they don’t feel safe.
“The same thing goes for Customs officers and we cannot blame them because the area we operate can be volatile and no one will want to stay out late at night because when they leave, they may be attacked by armed robbers or any other threat which may arise.
“We also have challenges with the banks about paying duties online. Another challenge we are having in our terminal at Mile 2 is the congestion on the road. We can deliver over 1,000 cars a day because of the digital solution we offer but unfortunately the road is blocked. So the vehicles cannot get out of the terminal because there is no space on the road to receive them,” he said.
Russo said while the terminal and its parent company, Grimaldi Nigeria have adopted the use of technology to enhance its operation, some government agencies involved in cargo clearance are yet to key into full digitisation of their operations thus maintaining human contact at the port.
“We have digitalised everything which could have been digitalised and we would have digitised even more if not for certain practice with those we are interacting with as some of them are not digitalised.
“From arrival of the vessel to the delivery of the cargo basically our clients can do everything online. They don’t even need to come to the port. My dream is that one day, I will come to the office and I will not see all these crowd around the port.
“The reason why PTML has never experienced congestion is because we have the real solution, otherwise with the number of vehicles coming into this port terminal, there will be crazy congestion but because we have invested in digitisation and still investing there, we don’t have any congestion,” he said.
Russo said the company has adopted the use of barges to receive export cargoes and move empty containers.
He said, “Because of this offdock terminal we have been moving cargo in and out with our barges. We have been overwhelmed by request from customers to work with us because they know that with our solution, the export cargo can access the terminal without any delay. This is why last year; we were the first carrier of export containers. On empties, for every one container in PTML, there are always two to three containers going out. So we have been moving our cargo by barges,” he said.