MARAN Forum: Shippers Council Seeks Support For Government’s Rail Projects
From left: A lecturer with the Nigerian Institute of Shipping, Simon Chima, for Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Authority, Peter Egesi and Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello at a one-day talk shop organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria MARAN, with the theme: ‘Prospects and Challenges of Logistic Services As Life-wire of the Maritime Industry’ in Lagos Tuesday.
By FRANCIS EZEM
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council NSC, the country’s commercial regulator for the seaport has made a strong case for stakeholders in the shipping and maritime industry of the economy to support the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to connect the nation’s seaports with the rail lines, saying that this will help to facilitate prompt movement of cargo through the seaports to the hinterland.
Executive Secretary/CEO of the council, Barrister Hassan Bello who was speaking at a one-day Talk Shop organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria MARAN at the International Maritime Press Centre, Apapa, Lagos, Tuesday with the theme: ”The Prospects and Challenges of Logistics Services As The Life Wire of The Maritime Industry”, said there was need for stakeholders to support Federal Government’s efforts at connecting the ports to the rail system.
According to him, the decision of the Federal Government to embark on these modern rail tracks, including those extending to the seaports is as part of measures to check this current adoption of single mode of transport system, especially road transportation for the movement of consignments in and out of the seaports, which has not been as efficient as expected.
He said that with the completion of the various rail projects, the country would be gravitating towards a multi-modal transport system, which is the global accepted standard for the movement of cargo in and out of the seaports for efficiency and cost effectiveness.
“The Federal Government is committed towards improving the transport systems in the country, especially in terms of movement of cargo to and from the seaports. That also accounts for why it is embarking on several rail projects across the country, so everyone needs to support the government in its efforts to achieve these lofty objectives, which will not only enhance port efficiency and competitiveness but also boost macro –economic growth”, Bello said.
Meanwhile, General Manager Ports and Terminals Limited, PTOL, Mr. Henry Cline, who spoke on the ”Terminal Operators’ Perspectives and Challenges in the Maritime industry” noted that since the adoption of the landlord model of seaport management by the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA in 2006, allowing for private sector participation into management, giant steps have taken in the provision of port infrastructure.
Mr. Cline noted further noted that the massive injection of private sector in the port development through the private terminal operators was responsible for the infrastructure explosion in the nation’s port industry, which has enhanced efficiency.
He also listed the effects of the private involvement into terminal management to include reconstruction of quay walls, stacking areas and overall improvement in the infrastructure of the ports, procurement of new plants and equipment, extra revenues have accrued to the federal government in form of lease fees, throughput fees, etc, employment of professional hands and training of personnel resulting in efficiency and quick turn round of vessels, reduced cargo dwell time in the ports and security of cargo.
While lamenting on the challenges faced by the port operators in the recent time, the PTOL General Manager insisted that lack of security at the ports, lack of certain infrastructure and services in the post concession era, non-provision of marine craft and many other challenges have made the operation difficult for port users.
He said: “The current total reliance on a single mode of transport infrastructure (road) serving the seaports several years after they were concessioned does not make for efficiency. This is still the case more than 11 years after concession. The implication of this is that the seaports/terminals as points of intermodal transfer are saddled with a single mode of transport to exit and receive cargoes. The consequence of this development is that development is that the logistics of exiting and receiving cargoes are crippled when he only mode of transport is either block or dilapidated.”
Other stakeholders at the event insist that that Nigeria, as a nation, needs to exploit other modes of transportation of the cargoes such as through the pipelines, among several others, arguing that having other modes of transportation particularly the pipeline mode of moving liquid bulk cargoes to other places would address the gridlock on most port access roads.