As Nigeria witness tremendous influx of goods through the ports because of land border closure, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has resolved to divert more cargoes to the Eastern ports.
The General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Mr Adams Jatto, said the move is to decongest the Ports in Lagos.
He added that the authority was still making every efforts to ensure that it coped with the volume of cargoes coming in, adding that the terminal operators, the handlers, were doing very well in decongesting the port.
“We are aware that we have overtime cargoes in the port due to delays, but efforts are being made by Customs and stakeholders to ensure these cargoes are evacuated to make way for accommodating more cargoes.
“Efforts are also being made to make the Eastern ports more viable because from what we have been seeing due to the border closure, more cargoes are now moving to the East and we hope to see more of that this year.
“Moving these cargoes to the Eastern port is a good thing because it is observed that most of the cargoes that are Lagos bound, most of these consignment are meant for the East.
“We cannot force people to take their cargo from one place to the other, it is the owner of the cargo that determines where the cargo will go.
“So, cargoes meant for the East should be taken to the Eastern port to ease means of their doing business,” he said.
Jatto pointed that there were issues as regards the Eastern ports which NPA was looking into.
He said Onne Port, in Rivers had bad road and the means of evacuating cargo from the port is 90 per cent through the road network.
He noted that the NPA management was talking with agencies involved such as the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta.
According to him, the agencies are the ones who did the road from Port Harcourt to Onne.
Jatto said that there were assurances that the road would be repaired as soon as possible.
He stated that the Authority believed that by the time the road was repaired there would be ease of moving cargo from Onne to places such as Onitsha and Aba.
On the use of badges on the waterways, he said the main focus this year was licencing of operators to ensure that the job was effectively done and measures put to ensure the best operators were licenced.
Jatto said that NPA was concerned about carrying out the responsibility of inspection before permit was issued to operators.
He, however, observed that badge operations were important in terms of cargo movement.
Jatto said that the ultimate goal for NPA was to have an electronic call-up system and parks for the truck to help reduce congestion on the road and ports.
“The port managers are doing their best in the circumstances that we are, the ultimate goal is for us to have the electronic call ups.
“What we have now is being done manually and we expect that this kind of hiccup will be there.
“What we want to do is to ensure we have parks outside the port area, outside Lagos, and the NPA management is discussing with the Ogun and Lagos State governments to ensure we have a park for these trucks.
“We are not looking at the short term solutions but equally on the long term,” he said.
He urged stakeholders to keep hope alive as the Authority was doing things in 2020 to ensure there was free flow of traffic in the port to enhance ease of doing business.
He also urged those in the East to be rest assured that machinery were being put in place to ensure that the Port Harcourt port was reactivated.