As Nigeria battles to meet a 90-day deadline handed down by the United States of America Coast Guard, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has been advised to intensify efforts to guarantee the security of ships calling at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
The Managing Director, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL), a member of the Dangote Group and Operator of Terminal ‘E’ of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, Mallam Abba Isa Bukar, who gave the advise last Friday, disclosed that vessels at berth, especially at the GDNL terminal, were incessantly attacked by hoodlums who entered the port through the water front in canoes.
“The terminal experiences frequent attacks from Sapokoji village. We have several unidentified canoes moving along the channel fishing and often times moving close to vessels, sometimes attacking vessels at berth. We require increased government security agencies patrol on the water front”, he said.
The GDNL boss who was Port Manager of the former Container Terminal Port in the pre-port-concession era, also asked the federal government to remove the supervision of stevedoring firms from the functions of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over what he described as NIMASA’s incompetence in overseeing that vital component of port operation.
Speaking during a tour of the port by the Policy and Monitoring Committee of the National Council of Privatisation (NCP) led by the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsuideen Usman, on Friday, Bukar said: “The system of stevedoring is to remove any criminal act from the cargo handling process but if things are coming back because NIMASA is not competent enough or they don’t have the technical knowledge for enforcement, then government should come in and reassign that role.”
The GDNL boss who was Port Manager of the former Container Terminal Port in the pre-port concession era said government should return the ownership and supervision of stevedoring functions to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
“NPA is the owner of payment by gross tonnage. So, we are simply asking the government to hand it over to NPA, so they will be able to control it since this has always been part of NPA.”
Apart from GDNL, the NCP monitoring committee also visited APM Terminals, ENL Consoritum and Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited – all terminals at LPC concessioned to private firms by the federal government in 2006.
After the tour of the facilities, Chairman of the NCP Policy and Monitoring Committee and Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamshudeen Usman, said the port has witnessed tremendous improvement as a result of the federal government port reform programme of 2006.
Usman said that terminal operators have undertaken critical investments that have transformed the ports.
“Any ship that comes into Apapa docks immediately but the time of discharge will depend on the type of cargo to be discharged. Before the concession, the number of ships waiting to berth were many that you see a large number of ships lining up to the Atlantic waiting to berth but now it looks as if there is no business going on in the port. What we see now is due to the work that all these terminal operators have done in the port.
“We have come a long way but may not have got to the ultimate destination but I think obviously with all the improvement and investment taking place we are heading to a situation where there is a significant headway.
For instance, the additional surcharge imposed on every containers coming into Nigeria has been removed and this has been a significant benefit to the importers and those who are doing business at the port”, the Minister stated.
He also promised to address the various challenges private terminal operators said they were facing at the port.
He said report of the tour would be submitted to the NCP headed by Vice President NamadiSambo with a view to providing direction for future policy making.
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