Transport Minister appoints c’tte to resolve ports issues

Transport Minister appoints c’tte to resolve ports issues
… Joins Customs in explaining Tin-Can Port congestion

Obviously concerned about certain nagging issues about the nation’s seaports, the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, last Friday took an on-the-spot assessment of the Lagos ports, at the end of which he appointed a committee to resolve matters therein.
The latest Federal Government-midwived committee in the ports system, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered, has the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Engr. David Omonibeke, as Chairman.
Membership of committee is multi-disciplinary, comprising, among others, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), cargo scanning services providers, terminal operators and shipping companies.
Sources informed SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that Umar had given the committee marching orders to objectively look into the various issues that assail the ports, proffering solutions on critical matters such as dislocations in cargo clearance and delivery, and congestion arising thereof.
While the committee’s timeframe could not readily be confirmed, it was learnt that the Minister gave strict directives that it kick-starts promptly, and works with dispatch to execute its brief.
Meanwhile, the crushing congestion that has engulfed Ashaye Terminal of the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC) may soon be a thing of the past, even as the Transport Minister; and the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin-Can Island Port Area Command, NCS, Comptroller Zakari Jibrin, linked the cargo build-up with alleged inadequate logistics supply by the terminal operator.

Tincan Island Container Terminal Limited (TICT), as the terminal operator, undertakes the responsibility of taking delivery of imported cargoes, which it, thereafter, transfers to the scanning site of the service provider, Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited (CDIL).
Blaming the root cause of the worrisome situation on the alleged inefficiency of cargo transfer mechanism from the terminal to the scanning bay, the two top government officials, who spoke at different fora after touring the port, said that the issue of space constraint would also be addressed.
During the tour of the port last Friday, the Minister, who bemoaned, what, according to him, was the slow process of transfer of cargo by the terminal operator, also expressed worry at the incessant breakdown of the Customs server, thereby compounding the goods clearing process.
Umar, who was accompanied by top officials of the NPA during the tour, opined that the congestion problem could have largely been averted if the delays associated with feeding the scanning facilities with containers had been observed.
And speaking with journalists recently during the presentation of his Command’s quarterly scorecard, the CAC linked the congestion problem to inadequate supply of containers to the scanner site.

Jibrin said: “We went round the terminal with the Minister (of Transport) and the representatives of the service provider and the terminal operators, and we can all see the problem. TICT has a lot of cargo, (and) no space, because empty containers have taken over most of the available spaces. Cotecna is waiting to scan, (and) no cargo transfer from TICT, because of transportation problem.
“Cotecna have told us that they can scan up to 400 containers in a day, but they (terminal operator) only make 200 available … sometimes less, because the trucks are inadequate. They have not allowed us to test the true capacity of Cotecna by supplying them with that 400 so that everybody can see.
“I can assure you that the problem with TICT is being addressed. They are now to transfer excess containers to off dock facilities, and we do hope that this will take care of most of the problem.”
Reacting to the issue, the CDIL management, through its spokesperson, Mr. Aminu Mohammed, maintained that the installed capacities of the scanners at the port were grossly being underutilised.
“While the daily capacity of the 9.0 MeV fixed scanner at Tin-Can Ashaye is 400 boxes, and the mobile scanner at Tin-Can RoRo is 360 boxes, within the current month of September 2013, the company has so far accomplished only daily average of 185 and 108 for the 2 sites respectively,” Mohammed said.