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Shippers’ Council boss lauds competition in ports services

…as WACT invests $10million in cranes

By Godwin Oritse

EXECUTIVE Secretary/Chief Executive, Nigerian Shippers’Council, NSC, Hassan Bello, has indicated that competition in the nation’s ports infrastructure is the policy direction towards private sector-led efficiency in Nigeria’s maritime industry.

Hassan Bello
*Mr Hassan Bello

He made this known at the commissioning of the Mobile Harbour Cranes, MHCs, worth $10million (N3.6billion) for the discharge of cargoes at the West African Container Terminal, WACT, in Port Harcourt, weekend.

Bello stated: “Our terminals need to grow and show efficiency. I am happy with the competition because this is how to compete. We need options, the choice for shippers where they will discharge their cargoes.”

WACT had invested about $10million (N3.6billion) in the equipment to cope with increasing container traffic in the eastern ports following the congestions in the Lagos ports.

Bello stated further: “The commissioning of these MHCs is no doubt significant because it will improve efficiency. We are happy with the 30 per cent increase in volumes of cargoes and in the long run, more Nigerians would be employed and it will make the terminal operation contribute to the economy.

“The more efficient we have, the more cargoes we will get because Nigeria is a natural harbour due to the market that is available and I am happy today that this terminal is becoming one of the most efficient we have in West Africa and this is gladdening our hearts. The main reasons for concessioning the port to the private sector will be realised by this terminal and we will use this terminal to benchmark the performance of other terminals.”

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He said the new cranes will aid efficiency and improve vessels turn-around time at the terminal, and reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to encouraging more importers to patronise Onne Port, adding that government is determined to see shipping make significant contributions to the economy.

The MHCs are coming on the heels of 10 new specialized terminal trucks and two new reach stackers acquired by the firm.

The two new container cargoes handling facilities would bring WACT, one of the most efficient container terminals outside Lagos, at par with its peers in Apapa, and Tin Can Island Ports, in terms of equipment and operational efficiency.

Speaking at the commissioning, in Onne, Rivers State, last weekend, the Managing Director, WACT, Aamir Mirza, said the massive investment at the terminal has attracted 700 direct and 2000 indirect employment in the country. He said the company has recorded tremendous growth of 17 per cent in 2017, 21 per cent growth in 2018 and 20 per cent growth attained so far this year.

Mizra described the investment as a key enabler to customers’ satisfaction, adding that the cranes would enable volume growth resulting in increased productivity; reduced port stay and provide bunker savings; improve reliability in cargo delivery times; reduce the impact of crane breakdown/idle time on overall terminal operations; and increase customers satisfaction and speedy delivery.

The Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), Umana Okon Umana, lauded WACT for making the nation meet the objectives of establishing the free zone.

He promised to run the free zone in a professional manner and assured of the provision of dedicated power to the zone for efficient service delivery.

He said, “For us, the fact that WACT is expanding their operation is a show of confidence they have in the economy and confidence they have in Nigeria and the MD said they have sent Nigerians out for training because this is very specialised equipment and as we know; the objectives of free zones is to attract FDI that will support job creation, support transfer of skills and technology and what government loses by tax revenues, government takes back in employment, skills and transfer of skills.”

The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, lauded the company for acquiring the new cranes, even as she urged shippers to patronise Onne Port.

Usman, who was represented by the Onne Port Manager, Al-Hassan Ismaila, said the government is looking into the security of vessels on the nation’s high sea.

“The Onne Port is a nexus to connecting the North-East, North-Central, South-South and South-East, so cargoes for this section of the country is expected to be discharged through this port.

“We are calling on shippers to patronize Onne Port because of the friendly environment, and the synergy between the agencies of government operating at the port,” she added.

The cranes commissioning ceremony was witnessed by several stakeholders including the representatives of shipping companies, Customs, freight forwarders, truck operators, importers, exporters and government agent

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