One of the terminal operators in the nation’s seaports, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL), has called for the beefing up of security in the nation’s seaports.
The firm said this is the only way to forestall break down of law and order and rubbish the image of the country before the international community. GDNL is a member of the Dangote Group and Operator of Terminal ‘E’, Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
The Managing Director of GDNL, Alhaji Abba Isa Bukar, stated this when he played host to a delegation of the Policy and Monitoring Committee of the National Council of Privatisation (NCP) led by the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsuideen Usman
“Government needs to beef of security at the ports, as vessels at berth, especially in LPC, are being attacked by hoodlums who come into the port by canoes and boats. The terminal experiences frequent attacks from Sapokoji village. We have several unidentified canoes moving along the channel fishing and often times moving close to vessels, sometimes attacking vessels at berth. We require increased government security agencies patrol on the water front”, he said.
The GDNL boss, who was the Port Manager, Container Terminal Port in the pre-port concession era, also asked the federal government to remove the supervision of stevedoring firms from the functions of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over what he described as NIMASA’s incompetence in overseeing that vital component of port operations.
“The system of stevedoring is to remove any criminal act from the cargo handling process but if things are coming back because NIMASA is not competent enough or they don't have the technical knowledge for enforcement, then government should come in and reassign that role.”
He argued that the ownership and supervision of stevedoring functions should be returned to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). “NPA is the owner of payment by gross tonnage. So, we are simply asking the government to hand it over to NPA, so they will be able to control it since this has always been part of NPA.”
Apart from GDNL, the NCP monitoring committee also visited APM Terminals, ENL Consortium and Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited. These were terminals in LPC concessioned to private firms by the federal government in 2006 in the wake of the port reforms handled by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Taking an overview of his findings after the tour which lasted for hours, the Chairman of the NCP Policy and Monitoring Committee and Minister of National Planning said the port has witnessed tremendous improvement as a result of the federal government port reform programme of 2006.
He stated that the concessioning of the port in 2005 by the federal government has led to increasing the efficiencies of port operations in Nigeria than what the port was prior to its concession
His words: "I think obviously with all the improvements and investments we are heading to a situation where there is a significant impact. The terminal operators have undertaken critical investment that transformed the port sector especially in finding a lasting solution to stopping waiting time for ships that are coming into the country to discharge cargoes.
“Any ship that comes into Apapa docks immediately but the time of discharge will depend on the type of cargo to be discharged. Before the concessioning, the numbers of ship waiting to berth are many that you see a large number of ships lining up to the Atlantic waiting to berth but now it looks as if there is no business going on in the port, it is not so. What we see now is due to the work that all this terminal operators has done in the port.
“We have come a long way but may not have gotten to the ultimate but I think obviously with all the improvement and investment taking place we are heading to a situation where there is a significant headway. For instance the additional surcharge putting on every containers coming into Nigeria has been removed and this has been a significant benefit to the importers and those who are doing business.”
He also promised to address the various challenges private terminal operators said they were facing at the ports. He said report of the tour would be submitted to the NCP headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo with a view to providing direction for future policy making.