By Godwin Oritse
Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, has said that leading container operator, APM Terminals Apapa has deployed equipment and cranes necessary for fast evacuation of cargo at Nigeria’s premiere port, the Lagos Port Complex Apapa.
Usman, who spoke on a TV programme monitored in Lagos on Tuesday, also decried the manual inspection of cargoes by the Nigeria Customs Service, which she says does not promote port efficiency.
She said there is need for prompt deployment of scanners and automation of the cargo clearing process to reduce the burden of consignees.
She said, “We’ll continue to engage with our stakeholders but we recognize that we must enhance efficiency and ensure consignees get their cargo in a timely manner. Some of the things we are doing is pushing to ensure that vessels come in and cargoes evacuated in good time.
“We are working assiduously with the terminal operators and the Nigeria Customs Service to fast track the process of evacuating cargo from the vessel and importantly the inspection of cargo. This is something that is of great priority to the ports authority, government and more so for Customs.
“We need to deploy scanners at our ports so that our cargoes can be inspected using scanners. Right now, as a lot of consignees are aware, our cargoes are inspected physically. You can imagine how difficult and challenging that would be having cargoes that come into the country examined physically. We need to make sure that we put in place automation mechanism to improve port efficiency.
“APM Terminals, for example, has imported the necessary equipment and cranes needed for fast evacuation of cargo and indeed that is what we need. With the deployment of the cranes by APM Terminals, they are now working assiduously with NPA in improving on the operational efficiency which will translate to an improved cargo evacuation for consignees outside of the port location.”
On NPA’s efforts to encourage intermodal transportation in cargo evacuation, Usman said work is ongoing to connect the Tin Can Island and Apapa ports by rail.
“One of the things we should recognize is that a port cannot function if 90 per cent of its cargo is going by road. So we must assiduously recognize the need for intermodal transportation system. That is why the Minister of Transportation has been actively pursuing a rail project. Right now, the contractors are working in linking the Tin Can Island and Apapa ports with rail connection and that should be completed before the end of the year so we can have seamless cargo evacuation using rail. Intermodal transportation is what will enable us address the congestion within the entrance of the Tin Can Island and Apapa ports,” she said.
Usman said NPA under its new board will ensure the realization of deep seaport projects in the country.