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Port Congestion: Importers To Pay Shipowners Fresh N803m Daily

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By YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos –

With unending traffic gridlock in the roads leading to the nation’s seaports, Nigeria is set to lose a whopping $2.2 million (N803million at N365/dollar) daily as shipping waiting time increases from three days to 30 days, LEADERSHIP has learnt.

The $2.2m is fee that is generally paid by importers as compensation fee to ship waiting due to congestion at Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports complex in Lagos.

In a year, Nigeria importers would have to pay $800 million (N292billion) to ship delay over inability of truck drivers to access the seaports for evacuation of cargoes at various terminals.

According to a survey conducted by a private consultancy firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, the efficiency at the nation’s seaports had earlier saved the Nigerian economy an estimated $800 million annually in congestion fees alone.

But LEADERSHIP investigations last week showed that traffic from Ijora extended right into the port terminals, even as the trucks that have loaded could not get out of the terminals because of the gridlock.

As a result, the terminals, especially those that handle bulk are filled up to brim, letting ship lineup at the Quayside.

Speaking on this development, the chairman of Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, said delay time of ships in the terminal has increased from three days to 30 days.

Haastrup who disclosed that time is of the essence to maritime activities said ships now spend 30 days waiting to discharge cargoes.

She said, “In the ENL terminal, I have a ship that has berthed and has been waiting to discharge for months because some other ships cannot discharge cargoes because the trucks do not have free access to the ports.

“Time is money in maritime activities because the importers of goods are paying demurrage on the ships and that is why freight and insurance costs are more expensive for ships coming to Nigeria than any other parts of the world.

On high turnaround time of vessels, private terminal operators said trucks have no access to the seaports to evacuate already discharged cargo, hence stalling discharge of new once.

According to the chairman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, Time is of essence in maritime activities. It is more so in port operations where a ship’s voyage has already been programmed for weeks ahead”.

She continued: “Delay time of ships in the terminal has increased from three days to 30 days. The roads are deplorable and the control of the road is a problem.

“This is a traffic control problem. Everybody goes out in the night; the transporters, the truck drivers and the oil tanker drivers would park on the bridge and I have been wondering if that bridge is built to withstand such pressure”.

Haastrup who is also the Chief Executive Officer of ENL Consortium Limited, one of the private terminal operators, said a minimum of 1,000 trucks come to the nation’s ports and jetties daily to load.

“The federal government’s right of way needs to be enforced because these trucks just park indiscriminately. Getting to the office is even a challenge. Trucks cripple all the inland roads within Apapa and Apapa is sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode. If that happens, it is going to be disastrous”, Haastrup warned.

She called on the federal government to pay more attention to the maritime sector by evolving the right policies on challenging issues in the port development.

“These are issues that should have been handled long time ago, including the traffic and the roads. The port is the economic gateway of any country”, she observed.

Corroborating Haastrup, an executive manager in a Josepdam Services Limited said his warehouse is filled to capacity with the federal government fertilizers and gypsum that could not be evacuated because of the state of the roads.

The Manger who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to talk said even the contractor has agreed to add N50,000 for the truck drivers but they refused coming to the ports, saying they can’t afford spending five to seven days to access the port.

His words: “The fertilizers are going upcountry and the truck drivers said because they are coming from outside Lagos, they can’t come to the port where they will spend over four days before accessing the port. In fact, the contractor added N50,000 to their fee but they refused, saying they won’t come to Lagos.

“If you visit our warehouse, you will see that it is filled up to the brim because of access to the port”.

Also speaking, a senior manager with the largest container terminal in West Africa, APM Terminal Apapa, said his terminal is yet to experience congestion.

He however acknowledged that if nothing is done about the traffic situation leading to the port, the terminal might experience congestion because it takes truck drivers to exit the port from its terminal.

The manager who craved anonymity said, “APM Terminal has large capacity to receive more containers in our terminal. We have capacity to receive about 30,000 containers before we can experience congestion and when ships come, they discharge in our terminal before going to Tin-Can or any other terminal.

He stated that the terminal is not moving cargoes out as it is supposed to because of the traffic gridlock.

“No doubt, we are not moving cargoes out as expected but the largest vessel that can call in Apapa today will discharge 4000 containers and we have capacity to store over 30,0000”, he said.

When reminded that Haastrup is complaining about planned congestion, he said bulk terminals would experience congestion before container terminal because they have no storage facilities.

“Bulk terminals have no storage facilities in fact, they discharge straight into trucks. If the trucks find it difficult to access the ports they will have to wait till they can do that and it will lead to congestion and increase waiting time of vessels”, he told our correspondent.

 

Pirates Steal Training Vessel At Lagos Anchorage

Meanwhile, pirates have stolen fishing and research vessel donated by the Japanese government to the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology (FCF&MT), Lagos.

This is even as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said last week that it has been able to trace the missing vessel to neighbouring Cameroun.

LEADERSHIP investigations showed that the vessel, Sarki Baraka, is a 1982 built Panama flagged vessel with IMO number 8103107, MMSI: 371759000 Call Sign: HO4222. It has a Gross Tonnage of 1091 and Deadweight: 1200 and the length Overall and Breadth Extreme is 68.58m × 12.5m.

Speaking on the development, NIMASA Executive Director of Operations, Eng. Rotimi Fashakin, confirmed to LEADERSHIP that the vessel was donated to the college by the Japanese government for purposes of training.

Fashakin said that the vessel was stolen from where it was anchored in Lagos. He noted that when the agency realised that its vessel had been stolen, it notified NIMASA and moved to recover the stolen vessel.

He said the agency had moved swiftly into action and that he had constituted his special assistant and some staff to search for the vessel.

He said, “Oceanography just told us that their vessel was missing. So, we had to move in and because NIMASA is charged with ensuring and promoting indigenous shipping in Nigeria, we had to move in with the deployment of the right tools.

“There is a great collaboration in the shipping business; information sharing is one of the cardinal means of ensuring that global shipping is safe and secure. Through that collaborative effort, we were able to get Cameroun telling us that the vessel was found in their country”.

A reliable source at the School however confirmed the name of the vessel as Sarki Baraka, saying, “it is a fishing and research vessel, but currently we don’t know where that vessel is anymore”.

When our correspondent contacted the captain of the vessel (names withheld), she was unwilling to disclose any information.

Efforts to speak with the school authority for more clarification proved abortive as repeated phone calls placed to Rector of the Academy, Dr Sule Abdullahi, were not answered.

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