As over 40 vessels stranded at anchorage

By Godfrey Bivbere

AS the slow pace of work at the Tin-can end of the port access road continues resulting in difficulty in evacuation of cargo, congestion has built up leading to over 40 ships waiting at the anchorage for berthing space.

The situation brings to the fore need to provide alternative routes for cargo evacuation as port activities at Tin Can Island Port have almost collapsed.

Though the construction of the road is ongoing, some stakeholders are of the view that the slow pace of work by the contractors is affecting port operations at Tin-can Island port.

The development has resulted in an increase in the turnaround time for vessel calling at the port.

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Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Hassan Bello while visiting Ports and Cargo terminal, said government is serious about fixing the port access roads, assuring that work on the road will soon be completed.

He said government is working on short term plans to facilitate evacuation of cargoes from Tin Can Port.

Managing Director of Ports & Cargo, John Jenkins, blamed the slow process of cargo evacuation at the terminal on the deplorable state of the ports access roads, adding that there is a long waiting time for ships at Tin Can Island Port.

He said the effect of the congestion on Tin Can Island Port access road has led to delays in vessel turnaround time with over 40 vessels currently waiting to discharge cargoes at the port.

According to him: “There are over 40 vessels at anchorage at the Tin Can Island Port. At Port & Cargo, we could only bring seven alongside now. Last month, we kept one of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) vessels there for four days because they could not discharge and this month, we have kept vessels for more than two days already because we don’t know where to put the containers.

“I have worked in this port industry all my life; I have never seen roads like this. We could form a palliative solution. We are not happy; people are losing their means of livelihood everyday because of the poor condition of the road.”

The Shippers Council boss noted that Port & Cargo terminal was rated the lowest in automation at 25 percent while other terminals had attained 60 percent and above. Bello also noted that the company has been slow in its response to complaints by its customers as well as emails from the regulator.

The NSC boss said: “Government is trying as much as possible to fix the roads, which is about 75 percent completed. We know the roads are bad, but we will not take that as an excuse for Nigerians to be exploited. We know that Ports and Cargo Handling Services, P&CHS, have outlets where containers are stemmed to avoid port congestion. However, we expect this to be done at zero cost to the shippers. We have heard instances where P&CHS bills shippers for stemming cargoes to bonded terminals. This is unacceptable. It is against the international contract of carriage and affreightment.

“Another issue we have with Ports and Cargo is delays associated with the transfer and loading of barges despite the fact that these barges belong to P&CHS. At times, delays span around four months before barges are loaded and transferred. We won’t accept this anymore. The port is a transit point, not a warehouse.”

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