By Gboyega Oni
Ship chandlers have said that the concession of port terminals to private operators has hindered their access into the ports to provide supplies to their contractors, vessels. The concessionaires have barricaded their terminals thus limits their access to the ship side with stringent entrance conditions put in place.
Under this guise, all the terminal operators have illegally assumed the role of chandlers and provide supplies to vessels that berth in their respective terminals. The Grimaldi, the operators of Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML) at Tincan Island Port, Lagos, was singled out as the worst.
Deputy President of the Nigerian Licensed Ship-Chandlers Association, Mr. Abilo Ochuko disclosed this at a chart with Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) by the leaders of the association in Apapa, Lagos last week.
Ochuko said that they have been experienced this problem since the year 2006 when the federal government conceded the operations of the port terminals to private investors. He noted that immediately the terminals were taken over, the operators barricaded their terminals and came up with stringent entry conditions and thus denying our members the access they used to enjoy when the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was in charge of port operations.
Alleging that terminal operators illegally took over their supplying jobs to the vessels that berth in their terminals, he singled out PTML as the worst among the terminals as its management would never allow us to come into their terminal even with an identity to explain yourself.
‘They (port terminals) are giving us a lot of headache. In the days of Nigerian Ports Authority we did not experience any restriction to ship side in the ports. But since concessionaires have taken over, we have been having problem with entrance, barricaded their terminals and came up with stringent entry conditions with a decoy to take over our jobs. We have lost a lot of jobs to these people; they now operate ship chandling illegally. They have refused to have audience with us,’ Ochuko said.
Corroborating Ochuko, Dr. Chukwuemeka Enebeli, President of the association, said the situation was compounded by the terminal operators who mandated ship chandlers to register yearly with the payment of a registration fee.
According to him, with this development terminal operators have robbed our members their jobs and huge revenue as they too now provide ship chandling to ships that berth in their terminals without any approval by the Nigeria Customs Service.
‘Our members have lost their jobs and so much money to terminal operators, who now provide supplies to vessels in their respective berths because they do not allow ship chandlers to enter their terminals,’ said Enebeli, however blamed the Nigeria Customs Service for the proliferation of ship chandling licences in the country.
Ship chandlers are the professionals licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service to supply the needed items such as food, wines, engine spare parts, pharmaceuticals, etc, onboard ships.