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NPA: Engaging Stakeholders On Effective Utilisation Of Rivers, Onne Ports

Tuesday, 08 October 2019 | 00:00

The Rivers Ports Complex and Onne Ports Complex of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) like every port in the eastern zone is bedevilled with series of challenges ranging from insecurity, high vessel turn around time, overtime cargoes among others.

The challenges have been a source of concern to stakeholders operating at the zone that they sought government attention to solve the challenges.

But, the NPA Managing Director, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman on Monday as part of efforts to solve the aforementioned challenges led other management staff of the agency to engage stakeholders at the Rivers, Onne ports on workable solutions that will make the eastern ports competitive.

According to her, the authority decided to engage the stakeholders to ensure that the ports are competitive, have the required turn around time of vessels, infrastructure and machinery for evacuation of cargoes.

The stakeholders on their own raised concerns over insecurity, abandoned cargoes at the terminal, turn around time of vessels, absence of single window platforms and scanners at the ports.

However, the MD had said that some of the challenges mentioned have already been captured with provisions made to procure some of the equipment.

According to her, the Authority is doing everything to ensure that the ports are competitive, have the required turn around time of vessels, infrastructure and machinery for evacuation of cargoes.

Insecurity

Stakeholders have complained to the Managing Director on the cost of securing vessels as 90 percent of vessels come with armed security guards which come at a huge cost.

For instance, Pius Anam of Interserve Nigeria Limited, a shipping company in Port Harcourt had complained about insecurity at the channels, hijack of crews, vessels with shipping companies paying huge sum as ransom.

He however called on the management of the NPA to liaise with the Nigerian Navy on how to end insecurity at the channel and Anchorage.

However, responding the NPA boss said the Authority is liaising with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy to ensure that the waterways are secured.

“We are working with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy to ensure that the waterways are secured but also we are procuring ballistic patrol vessels to provide them with support which upon procurement we will handover to these agencies of government so that they can enhance security.

“Especially the security in the channels and at berths this is of paramount importance to us. We have also noted the new security architecture that are unveiled by NIMASA, we are ready to partner with them in this programme.”

Overtime Cargoes At Onne Port

The MD has called on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to begin on the spot, auctioning of overtime cargoes abandoned at Onne seaports by clearing agents.

The West African Container Terminal (WACT) had complained to NPA that their terminal is filled up with over 1500 containers examined and not cleared out of the terminal with overtime cargoes taken over 80 percent of the terminal space with 90percent berth occupancy.

But, speaking at the quarterly stakeholders’ meeting held in Portharcourt, Rivers State on Monday, the NPA boss said their is need to free up the Onne port especially WACT which she said has been overtaken by cargoes abandoned by clearing agents.

She also disclosed that stakeholders have highlighted the challenges faced at the Onne and Rivers ports while the Authority is taking it up to ensure that the ports are competitive, have the required turn around time of vessels, infrastructure and machinery for evacuation of cargoes.

The MD on overtime containers at the WACT terminal by freight forwarded, said there must be a proactive decision to free up the terminal inother to increase the turn around time of vessels at the terminal.

“We have noted that a lot of containers have been abandoned by consigness at Onne port. The WACT terminals is overflowing with containers because consigness have abandoned their containers because they don’t want their containers to be subjected to 100 percent examination by Customs.

“We as agencies of government are always inundated by reports that our ports are not efficient now we have a situation whereby owners and consigness are abandoning their cargoes because they dont want their cargoes to be subjected to the law, they don’t want it to be inspected for them to pay the necessary duties.

“We are discussing with the Nigeria Customs on what we need to do to auction some of these cargoes because as a responsible consignee, you can’t come into this country and abandon your consignment this is an indication that declaration made by lot of consigness are not correct that is why they are afraid of 100 percent percent examination enforced by the Customs service across the country.”

She however threatened that if clearing agents refused to clears their cargoes, it will be auctioned to free up space.

“We will ensure that all this cargoes are auctioned if people do not come to pick up their consignment and pay the government the necessary duties attributed to such cargoes.

Addressing High Vessels Turn Around Time

Stakeholders have complained about multiple government agencies, disregarding the executive order on ease of doing business at the port by delaying berthing of vessels due to vessel inspections.

Acccording to a stakeholder simply identified as Israel, government agencies spends a whopping 16 hours to clear a vessel for discharge.

He said, “It is only in Nigeria ports that clearance of vessels takes 16 hours. When vessels come to Rivers port, we don’t really understand the functions of each department because every department dabbles into the other.

“For instance, NIMASA has three sections that will come onboard doing one job, port health will come and after they have gone, plant quarantine will come to do same job. Immigration will come on board and spend four hours to check passport and seamen’s book, even though the vessel left Lagos to Portharcourt, the NPA should do something to ensure that the turn around time is reduced.”

Responding, the executive director, Marine and Operation, NPA, Sekonte Davies reminded the affected agencies of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on ease of doing business at the port.

He said, “There is an executive order from the Presidency and if any Agency does not support it, they can report to the Presidency they won’t participate so that we know.”

“All agencies should have a joint group for inspection. For instance, plant quarantine will go with Customs to check the vessels because we are doing seamless operation. That is what the PEBEC says,” he said.

Review Of Rebate To Eastern Ports

Stakeholders have also called for rebate on vessels less than 16000 GRT calling at the Rivers port.

But, the MD who assured stakeholders of review said the report after the review would determine if there would be downward or upward review of the discount.

“We have recently granted some level of discount, we will review this for three month to access the impact to know if their is a need for increase in discount to facilitate utilisation of the eastern port.

Single Window and Scanners
Also, the stakeholders called for single window at Nigerian seaport as.

The MD responding said absence of single window and scanners have made Nigerian seaports uncompetitive.

She however gave assurance of a single window in the next one year after the minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has assured of a single window.

He said, “Single window as we know is an integral part of trade facilitation tool and one of the things that inform non competitive nature of our port is the absence of single window but, the Nigeria customs, ministry of Transportation and NPA are working on framework on the implementation because when our ports are rated, one of the Key Performance Index (KPI) and trade facilitation tools is single window.

“Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said it is a project he will take personally to ensure it is implemented within one year. We are really keen to have it deployed efficiently because it is a game changer for our port if we are to deploy them.

“There is an issue of scanners. Our ports need to have scanners and that will eliminate 100 percent physical examination,” he said.
Source: The Leadership

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