By Godfrey Bivbere
UNLESS urgent actions are taken by relevant government agencies, port operations at Tin-can Island port may soon grind to a halt as part the quay apron has collapsed.
An apron is the area immediately in front of or behind a wharf shed on which cargo is lifted.
Vanguard Maritime Report investigations revealed that almost all the concessionaires operating the terminals at the port are faced with the same problem.
Vanguard Maritime Report can authoritatively reveal that Josepdam Port Services Ltd, JPS, Five Star Logistics Terminal and Tin Can Island Container Terminal, TICT are affected.
At Five Star Logistics Terminal, two portions of the quay apron have already caved in with the sand-fill washing down into the water from one of the collapsed portions.
It was further gathered that the two portions that have collapsed are now cordoned off, a situation which has also constrained the operating space for the terminal operators.
Similar situation has occurred at JPS where a portion of the quay apron has also caved in.
General Manager of JPS, David Iriabe, who disclosed this to visiting board members of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, said that they have contacted the Authority’s management and that they were working together to find a lasting solution to it.
Iriabe who took the visiting team to the site, said the collapse occurred while one of their cranes was working around the area.
TICT was the first to fall victim as some portion of the quay apron collapsed years back resulting in the management crying out for help.
Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that remedial work was done on the bad portion instead of comprehensive reconstruction but stressed that it could not stand the pressures as it subsequently collapsed again.
A source in one of the terminals who spoke to Vanguard Maritime Report on the condition of anonymity, explained that the port was constructed in 1977 and since then, no major maintenance or reconstruction has been done on it.
The source further noted that though Apapa port was constructed in the 60s, a major reconstruction was done on the quay apron which fortified it and wondered why the same was not done for the Tin-can Island port.
The Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited, PTML, also part of the Tin-can Island port, appears saved from this situation as the concessionaires had to reconstruct most parts of the facility that used to be staff quarters for employees of NPA.
There are, however, controversies over the complete rehabilitation work at some of the terminals at Apapa port, including the APM Terminals whose facility does not face similar challenge.
While some are of the opinion that the rehabilitation work at Apapa was done by NPA before being handed over to the concessionaire, other people say the rehabilitation work was done by some concessionaires.
Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, commenting on the situation of the quay apron during a visit to Vanguard Corporate Headquarters last year had denied a report that local welders were being contracted to fix the collapsing facility.
She said that NPA only contracted qualified welding companies if need be to undertake such maintenance.