By Chris Ndibe
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT Nigeria) has called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to include stakeholders in the review of the port concession agreement.
The President of the institute, Mr Ibrahim Jibril, made the appeal on an Instagram Live programme organised by Mrs Ezinne Azunnah of the MaritimeTvNews.
The programme was themed,” Supply Chain Management: Domesticating Best Models for Port Efficiency”.
According to him, for any port to be efficient, it must meet the expectations of its users and in that regard, that expectation must be competitive.
“It is obvious that in recent years, we have entered into some models which are expected to improve the efficiency of our ports as component of the supply chain. The activities at the ports must be in sequence with the life cycle of any cargo in transit.
“That model is the port concession arrangement we entered over a decade ago and the essence was to bring private hands in and take away cargo handling from the NPA.
“NPA is still in the process of reviewing that concession agreement; it has not been concluded.
“The only observation is that they have not taken on board other stakeholders who can bring in other ideas to have a near perfect agreement.
“This was the mistake they made at the initial agreement and as they are about reviewing the agreement, it is expected that they will include other stakeholders to draw up the agreement to forestall some of the challenges hindering efficiency at the ports,” he said.
He noted that unfortunately, the agreement did not take into consideration the social repercussion of the concession itself as it would have included port access in that agreement.
“This problem will have been solved by now, if we had tinkered with it then, this problem will have been solved by now,’’ Jibril added.
He said that a certain radius within the two main ports would be designated port areas and there would be control of movement of vehicles and the terminal operators would be fully involved in that in conjunction with government.
“I think that the agreement was a little bit flawed in that direction and that is why we have seen that for several years after the concession.
“We keep paying severance benefits to port workers who at times became disenchanted and stopped work and this introduced inefficiency in the way we had handled cargo at the seaports,” he said.
Jibril noted that after a decade and evaluating the situation at the port, he could quite say that some of the ports had been quite efficient but that was not to say that we had achieved what we wanted at the port.
He said that there were certainly some fundamental constraints and the first issue was that most of the seaports were like river ports, saying that they could not attract large vessels because of their shallow channels.
He listed other challenges as piracy, saying that they were hoping that with the Deep Blue Project that government had embarked upon, it could see to the near end of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The CILT Nigeria boss said that NPA had introduced a few measures to improve the efficiency of port operations such as the Vessel Tracking System, which was supposed to give the country a port domain awareness of all vessels that were coming in to berth.
He pointed out that NPA was seriously working on a single window platform so that importers would have one portal to contend with and also creating holding bays to reduce congestion on the bridges and road access to the ports.
Jibril said that for ports operations efficiency, there was need to integrate all the four modes of transportation to the ports, noting that this could be achieved through the implementation of the National Transport Policy.
“The best thing that will happen to Nigeria is if we can achieve intermodal means of transportation. We need to have a plan which can be achieved from the National Transport Master Plan got from the National Transport Policy.
“Government decided to focus on the rail because this is the mode that moves the largest quantity of goods across the nation cheaper and safer.
“There is also the need for private sector involvement in the railway construction so as to open doors for more efficient railway transport mode in the country,” he said.