An examination bay for cargo valued at N1.6 billion ($10 million) is being built by one of the concessionaires in the nation’s seaport, APM Terminals Apapa Limited.
The firm, which is a subsidiary of the Danish port operations and logistics giant, AP Moeller-Maersk Group, is the operator of Africa’s largest container terminal, Apapa Quay. It took over the terminal in 2006 in the wake of the economic reforms which led to the concession of the nation’s seaports to concessionaires.
The exercise, done by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), led to the divestment of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from the day-to-day running of the nation’s seaports.
Described as the first-of-its-kind with a multi-level racking system for physical inspection of containers at the terminal, the examination bay is being constructed in the Peoples Republic of China. When operational, the facility will facilitate the process of physical examination of containers at the terminal.
The Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Dallas Hampton, stated this in an interactive forum with journalists at the operational base of the firm in Africa’s largest container terminal, Apapa Container Terminal (ACT), Apapa, Lagos.
Hampton, who is on the last lap of his tenure as the MD of the firm, said the new facility is part of the phase three of the modernisation and upgrading of APM Terminals Apapa, which includes terminal yard redevelopment and expansion, new staff amenities and customer service building, acquisition of additional container handling equipment, and implementation of new terminal operating systems.
According to him, his company has more than enough cargo handling equipment. “APM Terminals Apapa Limited operates with more than 1.5 times the amount of equipment required for a facility the same size elsewhere. No terminal operator in the country can match the expertise and volume of investment of APM Terminals Apapa Limited”, he said.
He also said the charges of the firm were less than two per cent in the entire cost of what is paid in the cargo clearance processes. Describing the claim that terminal operators impose arbitrary charges on port users as “frivolous and a myth”, Hampton said the charges collected by them constitute only two per cent of the cost associated with the logistics chain.
He insisted that the terminal operators are not responsible for the high cost of doing business at the nation’s seaport.
Hampton called on importers and licensed customs agents to embrace what he described as “genuine declaration of their imports” and support the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in its drive to reduce the importation of fake and sub-standard goods.
He also charged the federal government to impose stiff penalties on importers who flout provisions of the import regime in order to discourage fraudulent practices by importers and their agents. He said the rate of physical examination at the port will reduce if importers improve on their compliance level with government import policy.
Hampton also said ACT concessioned to his company seven years ago has been upgraded to a world class facility that can compare with similar facilities in developed countries of the world. His words: “APMT is not perfect but we have developed a facility that compares with what you have anywhere in the world”.
He also disclosed that the volume of cargo handled at the terminal which was unimpressive last year has rebounded with 14 per cent increase in cargo throughput recorded in the second quarter of the year over the first quarter.