APM Terminals Apapa Limited has denied insinuations that it treats Nigerians inhumanely at the physical examination site in Apapa Quay, Lagos. The port, which remains Nigeria’s busiest port, has been dogged by claims and counter claims of inefficient service delivery in recent times.
While some port users, particularly importers and freight forwarders said the service providers, especially scanner and port operators have not done well, the concessionaires said it was not true.
The Interim Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Andrew Dawes, said the present condition of the physical examination site at the terminal is temporary as a new physical examination facility is being built and will be ready by the second quarter of next year.
Dawes said the physical examination site built earlier and handed over to the then Port Manager of Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Mr. Joshua Asanga, in 2010, could not be used by Customs at the time due to process variance.
He said a new physical examination facility is already being built for Customs use and would be ready by the second quarter of 2014.
Dawes said the present physical examination site was not originally designed for that purpose but had to be used temporarily to ensure that the process of examination at the terminal is not stalled. He said his company places premium on human life and has never done anything that would compromise its core values.
He said the safety and security of APMT's workers and customers remain paramount at all times. “The investment we are making at the terminal is not only on civil works and equipment, we are also investing to ensure the safety of everyone that comes here to transact their business,” he added.
According to him, the firm will continue to improve on its service offerings to its customers saying that areas of complaints were being addressed. There are sufficient pieces of equipment at the terminal for cargo handling and that more cranes are billed to arrive in the first week of September.
In 2010, the ultra-modern building, which is now in a dilapidated state due to disuse, was constructed to provide decent and conducive office accommodation to officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). The building was to serve as facility for the physical inspection of containers and for related administration of Customs operations at the terminal.
Then Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Martin Dirks, who handed over the facility to the then Port Manager of Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, Mr. Joshua Asanga, on May 4, 2010, said construction of the ultra-modern building was a further demonstration of his company's commitment to fulfilling its own part of the bargain in its 25-year port concession agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
He said the new building was to address various logistics and infrastructural challenges confronting customs officers at their present location.
"Today, inspection of containers takes place in the yard - away from the old Customs administrative building. This means distance, dust, rain, mud, traffic and so on for everyone involved in the examination process. It also means that each container occupies a container footprint for average of 18 hours but with this new building here, all those factors are eliminated, while working environment and safety is increased significantly", Dirks had stated at a brief ceremony marking the official handover of the building to NPA.
Dirks said the new building was built to offer more convenience to customs operatives /customs agents and in the same vein significantly increase utilisation of the concession area.
“One of the benefits of the new building to port operation in Nigeria is that each container will only be at the building for the short time it takes to examine it, and this time is estimated at 30 minutes, instead of sitting out there for 18 hours,” he said.
The multi-million naira building has 14 container bays and 235 square metres net office area - all built to British Standard and fully equipped with modern electronics gadgets and information technology.
Visibly-impressed, Asanga, who received the keys to the building, had hailed the firm for always setting the pace and upping the bar in port operations.
He had promised to ensure timely movement of Customs operatives into the new facility. But it was mere words as three years after the handover, the facility now lays waste inside the terminal with all the furniture and fittings have either been removed.