An average Nigerian licenced customs clearing agent is good at laying complaints.
Such complaints include undue demurrage, storage or rent charges, untimely positioning of containers for examination, long cargo dwell time, cost of doing business at ports and many more.
Interestingly, keen observation of the industry has shown that such complaints are gradually becoming history with the massive infrastructural development of port facilities by the current management of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), under the leadership of Mr. Omar Suleiman.
These deliberate efforts by the authority at boosting infrastructure in the ports have paid off significantly with soaring operational activities evident at the various ports in the country today.
There are now increased vessel-calls at the Nigerian ports which are engendered by quick turn-around time of vessels. This development, according to verifiable statistics, has resulted in the high cargo throughput from 42 million in 2006 to 82 million in 2011 with increased revenue generation into the government coffers.
For instance, the country’s shipping statistics show that the number of ocean-going vessels which called at Nigerian ports in 2011 stood at 5,327, representing an increase of 7.35 per cent over the figure of 4,962 ships that was recorded for 2010.
Similarly, the total gross tonnage of the ocean-going vessels leaped by about 13.08 per cent from 108.6 million metric tons in 2010 to 123 million metric tons in 2011.
In the same year, coastal vessels that called at the ports in 2011 were 24,298, which represents an increase of about 10.69 per cent over the 2010 figure of 21,950, while the gross tonnage of the coastal vessels in 2011 was 8.5 million metric tons, indicating a growth of 24.2 per cent over 2010 figure of 6.8 million metric tons.
The volume of refined petroleum in the year under review was 21,527,299 metric tonnes; indicating an increase of 19.3 per cent over the 2010 figure of 18,047,842 metric tonnes.
Laden container throughput was 817,246 TEUs amounting to 22.2 per cent increase over the 2010 figure of 668,697 TEUs, while the empty container in the year under review was 596,030 TEUs reflecting a 29.7 per cent increase over the 2010 figure of 459,474 TEUs. Vehicle traffic in 2011 was 231,423 units showing a 23.3 per cent increase over the 2010 figure of 187,635 units.
A challenging problem at the Lagos ports is the perennially bad port road, which remains in that condition partly due to overuse by heavy duty vehicles.
All over the world, ports operate in intermodal transport system typically involving the railway system. To realise same in Nigeria, the NPA recently awarded Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited N860.6 million contract to commence intermodal connectivity of sea ports to the rail lines.
Commenting on the rail infrastructure, the managing director of APM Terminals, Mr. Dallas Hampton in a recent exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP said, “The current efforts of the Engr. Omar Suleiman-led management are indeed commendable.
Its sustainability is encouraged as it portends good fortunes for the organisation and indeed the nation. All that is needed now to continue that process is for the national rail company to do its part and then as far as we are concerned we are very willing to participate in evacuating containers by rail. I think a lot is being done on it. Certainly, the ports authority has been very helpful.”
Specifically, he mentioned development of new port facilities as well as repairs and maintenance of buildings, wharves and corrosion, protection, roads and sidings, vessels, buoys, channels and waterways; including buoyage system, motor vehicles, office furniture and office equipment.