By Chinonye Anyatonwu
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, has said that the port reform exercise which led to the concessioning of the seaports in 2006 has a lot of benefits as well as challenges in the industry.
Bello Koko said the reform exercise has created a system that is efficient and competitive, transparent and capable of attracting foreign investments and more revenue from the ports.
But confessed that part of the challenges has been in managing the surge or increased traffic in port operations especially at the Lagos ports axis.
In a paper presented at the recent maritime seminar for judges organised in Abuja by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in collaboration with the Nigerian Judicial Institute (NJI) said the reform has helped in increase in employment as well as economic activities, such as haulage services, stevedoring, chandelling, among others.
Other benefits according to him were in setting and maintaining safety standards within the channels and addressing both safety and security challenges.
He added that broaching of containers and pilferage of cargo as were the cases before concessioning have drastically been reduced.
The MD however said that with more cargoes discharging at the ports as against what was the situation before concessioning, there have been a lot of challenges.
He said that while the NPA has continued to record more revenue, it has been confronted with issues of congestion that have created serious concerns in the industry.
He also pointed out poor and inadequate road network which has seriously affected the smooth delivery and evacuation of cargoes out of the ports, thus creating congestion in and out of the port corridors.
The MD who was represented at the occasion by Mr Innocent Umar, disclosed that in a bid to address the problems of congestion, the organisation came up with the electronic truck call up system (ETO) which according to him has helped to reduce the perennial traffic situation in Apapa port, Lagos.
He said “With this introduction, empty containers are returned to the Ports only through approved holding bays of Shipping Companies using the “ETO” Platform.
“It is the responsibility of the Shipping Companies to move empty containers from the holding bay to the Ports. All that is required from the cargo owner is to drop the empty container at the holding bay of the Shipping Company, from where arrangements will be made by the Shipping Company by necessary bookings on the “ETO” platform to return the container to the Port.
“As at March 2021 to February 2022, a total of 238,679 (Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy-Nine) trucks have ingressed from the Lagos Port Complex while 92,714 (Ninety-Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fourteen) trucks ingresses the Tincan Island Port Complex through the e-call up system.
According to Bello, “Non-compliance to the use of “ETO” and its guidelines will result in denial of access into the Ports, impounding of trucks and withdrawal of registration/operating license”.
He also disclosed that part of the efforts to address the congestion in the ports was what made the organisation to encourage the utilization of barges to move both laden containers and bulk cargoes out of the ports and at the same time the return of empty containers to the ports.
He said that the introduction of barge operations has considerably reduced the dwelling time of cargo and turnaround time on vessels calling at the Lagos Ports.
Disclosing further, he said that for the purpose of achieving standards for both the trucks and barges being used, the authority has introduced Standard Operating Standards (SOPs) for the service providers.
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