By Godwin Oritse
A re-engineering of cargo delivery regime in the African continent will top the agenda of the forthcoming International Association of Port and Harbours, IAPH Conference billed for next week in Abuja.
Disclosing this to newsmen last weekend, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said that an efficient hinterland transport system will bring about an efficient port system.
Usman said that the moves to link the hinterland connectivity in Africa is to also de-congest choked African ports.
She stated: “The ports cannot be efficient without an hinterland connectivity.”
The NPA boss explained that the hinterland connectivity regime in Africa will amount to a cost saving mechanism for African ports.
Her words: “What we seek to have is a clear policy on hinterland connection.
“We advocate for inter-modal transportation system for cargo evacuation and we believe that this is the singular way to decongest any port.
“So long as we have cargoes plying our roads, we will continue to have congestion.
“So making our respective governments understand that prioritizing hinterland connection is paramount for any port to be operational, for any port to be seen to be efficient, you must have hinterland connection.
“The notion that port operations are in isolation of the hinterland connection seem to be what our governments understand.
“These are the things that are burning issues for the continent and more so for Nigeria.
“We recently got the President to give a directive that the on-going rail rehabilitation expansion should ensure that all the ports are linked to the rail.
“We feel that the take away from this conference is to further reiterate to our respective governments that no matter what you talk about the operational efficiency of the port, no matter what we invest on quays, no matter what we invest on infrastructure, if you do not make a conscious decision to prioritize hinterland connection, the port can never be efficient.
“A port that does not have connection to the hinterland for cargo evacuation cannot be efficient.”