TENSION has enveloped the maritime sector over plans by the Federal Government to commence review of the concession agreement it entered with private terminal operators
Investigation conducted by City Businessnews revealed that all the terminal operators are not comfortable with the development.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, revealed plans to review the concession agreements between the Federal Government and port terminal operators in Lagos.
He explained during a courtesy visit by the council’s management team to the Tin Can Island Container Terminal in Lagos.
He said, “There is a need to review the concession agreements and it would be done with the involvement of all the terminal operators because we know that they are operating without power supply.
“We want to have a port community system where there will be equilibrium in shipping operation, which will enable us to have limited time for cargo clearance.”
Bello, however, observed that the terminal had limited space for empty containers and urged the management of the terminal not to delay cargo handling as well as the return of empty containers to the terminal.
He also suggested the introduction of an online booking to reduce the number of people milling around the terminal.
Bello said, “You should make efforts to reduce your cargo dwell time; this will help you to attract more customers.
“I intend to bring the management of the TICT into scientific ways of handling cargo traffic; this would go a long way in reducing the gridlock in the Tin Can area.
Bello said government had mandated the council to visit all the terminals and ensure their smooth operation.
“We want you to be effective and efficient because very soon, we will be coming from time to time to audit your performance. It is important for the TICT terminal to register with the NSC so that we can monitor your affairs and make sure that the company works according to the rules and agreement of concession,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the TICT, Mr. Etienne Rocher, promised to address all the issues raised by the NSC.
He said the terminal had invested about N70billion in the provision and development of facilities since it commenced operation in 2006.
He explained that part of the development recorded at the terminal was as a result of effective service delivery as vessels no longer experienced congestion at sea because of the available berthing spaces at the quayside.
Rocher said, “There has been tremendous improvement in vessel turnaround time at the terminal as vessels now spend only a few hours at berthing point to discharge their consignments as against over 30 days spent for the same purpose before the concession.
“The terminal had in 2013 operated a 21-day cargo dwell time but was currently operating a 16-day cargo dwell time.”
He described the terminal’s major challenges, which were external, to include the gridlock and large human traffic around the Tin Can Island Port.
Rocher said, “We need the assistance of the port regulator and other stakeholders. Nigerian ports have improved in terms of operation, equipment and turnaround time of vessels, which has streamlined all processes internally.
“We are also operating off- dock terminals at Kirikiri and Apapa to reduce cargo traffic at the Tin Can area.”
He added that the TICT management would key into online processing as well as increase the number of Nigerians employed by the company.
He commended the Nigeria Customs Service and other stakeholders for their cooperation.