Stoping daytime transfer of empty containers to Lagos and Tin-Can Island Ports complexes…

RETURN OF THE BUGBEAR

The order by the Presidential Committee on Port Reforms to stop daytime transfer of empty containers to Lagos and Tin-Can Island Ports complexes, has ignited congestion at both ports

The problem of congestion at the Lagos ports is on its way back. Major container terminals at the Lagos Port Complex, LPC, and the Tin-Can Island Port Complex, TCIPC, both in Apapa, Lagos, are presently filled to the brim. Maritime stakeholders fear that if the trend continues, the congestion will surely flow to the bonded terminals. Obviously, that would affect the operation and movement of vessels.

The problem of congestion at the ports were partially solved after the terminals were concessioned. Before then, vessels had to queue for about 45 days to find berthing space. This led to the imposition of congestion surcharges on Nigerian ports by major shipping lines under the aegis of the Europe West Africa Trade Agreement, EWATA. The surcharge amounted to over $100 million per annum, but the Nigerian economy was saved the huge cost by private terminal operators who promptly instituted measures that eliminated the vessel queues. The congestion at the Nigerian ports also led to diversion of vessels to other neighbouring West African countries and resultant loss of revenue.

Newswatch findings showed that the build up of containers at the ports which has recently congested the ports started after the Presidential Committee on Port Reforms ordered the stoppage of daytime transfer of empty containers into the two major seaports in Lagos. This order, meant to decongest the port access road, has inadvertently led to the build up of containers inside the ports, leading to an unprecedented level of congestion never seen at the ports in recent times. The build- up of containers has been a gradual process in the past few months after the presidential committee on port reforms cleared the port’s access roads of trucks and trailers parked indiscriminately on the roads. The access roads were cleared without an alternative parking arrangement for the trailers and trucks.

As a direct consequence of the Presidential Committee’s directive, there are too many trucks at present carrying empty containers into the terminals at night. Many of the trucks which are not attended to before dawn are turned away by security officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. The trucks so affected have to wait till the following night to try their luck again. The fear in the maritime industry is that if drastic action is not taken, the congestion would intensify in a few weeks from now.

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IMAGES: http://www.sweetcrudereports.com/ http://www.obehiokoawo.blogspot.com

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