By Bon Peters, Port Harcourt
The Eastern Maritime stakeholders have been sensitized on the need to evacuate overtime cargoes at the various seaports and terminals.
The event which took place recently in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was in continuation of the Joint Task Team Committee sensitization exercise going on across the Nation on the need to make the various Seaports and terminals free of over- stay cargoes which the Maritime industry watchers believe has hindered free movements of Containers which has negatively affected the smooth operations at the terminals.
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA,) Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, Commended the Federal government on her directive to decongest the Seaports noting that the stakeholders’ engagement was a welcomed strategy insisting that “such is relevant and necessary giving the escalating issue of cargo congestion at the Seaports and terminals”
Bello-Koko who was represented at the event by the Ports Manager, Onne Ports Complex, Mr Stanley Magaji Yitnoe stated that Seaports were designed to be efficient transit points, facilitating swift movement of goods but regretted that due to various reasons and factors, the seaports have become burdened with un-cleared cargoes that linger indefinitely obstructing terminal operations and adversely impacting overall Ports efficiency and our national economy.
Raising concern about the scarcity of space at the seaport terminals, Bello-Koko said the two container terminals at West African Container Terminal (WACT) and Onne Multipurpose Terminal (OMT) have suffered a significant land loss due to long-stay containers.
He insisted that such losses have severe implications for terminal efficiency and performance even as he said that it was his desire that “this sentiment is shared by terminal operators, shipping companies and consignees alike that presidential committee execute its assignment expeditiously as he was of the opinion that the timely resolution of the issue would enhance Ports efficiency, improve performance and contribute to a more favorable business environment at the ports.
Bello – Koko however, vowed NPA unalloyed support and cooperation even as he assured his management commitment in areas of resources and expertise to ensure a successful implementation of the deliberations insisting that together they could address the overtime containers challenges and bring about tangible improvements at the Ports.
He therefore urged the stakeholders to seize the opportunity to pave the way for enhanced port efficiency, economic growth, and an environment that fosters seamless business transactions.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani who was represented by Director of Maritime Services Babatunde Sule said that the thrust of the event was to find out ways of decongesting the ports and terminals to create more space for other cargoes to come in and reduce the high cargo dwelling and ships turnaround time.
Ajani maintained that for such to take place, there should be collaborative efforts with, the Federal Ministry of Transport Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Shippers Council, and Nigerian Ports Authority, she posited that the stakeholders should be sensitized and their ideas bought on how to decongest the ports and terminals for the betterment of the stakeholders, and the Nigerian economy.
Ajani said that the federal government has lost a colossal amount of money as a result of the nonavailability of spaces caused by the overtime cargoes and the committee wished to reverse the trend.
Speaking on behalf of ANLCA, Secretary General ANLCA Onne Seaport chapter, Deacon Chinedu Ikenga who is also the Group Managing Director Prestige Associates Bonded terminal said that one of the reasons for overtime cargoes was Government’s policy inconsistency.
He said such policies are negatively affecting the clearing of cargoes at the ports and terminals even as he decried the exchange rate which he said has caused great setbacks to Maritime business insisting that the Government should come up with a clear and consistent politics as no businessman would like to lose money to unwholesome policies.
Ajani said some importers might decide to abandon their cargoes if the money they would spend in clearing the cargo is higher than what they intend to get.
Present at the event include ANLCA, NAGAFF, Terminal Operators, Shipping companies, operators of Customs bonded terminals, among others.