The issue of 24-hour cargo handling operations in Nigeria ports seems to be a myth. But the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all government maritime agencies are said to have resolved to make it a reality as they have agreed to play their respective roles to facilitate the operation of 24 hours a day, seven days a week port services.
The CEOs agreement, according to Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, would help to decongest the ports and tremendously impact the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Federal Government.
Jamoh disclosed this after the second meeting of the Forum of CEOs of the government agencies in Lagos, saying a committee was constituted by the heads to produce a work plan for the 24-hour port system and agreed to carry communities around the port environments along in order to ensure safe operations within the port vicinities and beyond.
He added issues bordering on maritime safety and security, intermodal transportation, as well as synergy among agencies in the sector were discussed, saying that the forum had given the maritime industry a platform to grow and contribute more to Nigeria’s economic development.
According to him, “This meeting is the second in the series and it has started yielding positive fruits. For instance, the issue of berthing the NIMASA floating dock, which has lingered for a couple of years, has been resolved through this meeting and very soon it would be deployed for use.”
“We are looking at the workability of 24-hour port services to ease the pressure on our ports in terms of congestion. We also agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on how the movement of cargoes from the ports can be done by rail to reduce the pressure on our roads.
“Our focus is also to ensure containers are moved by barges to dry ports outside the port environments. All these would help in the efficiency and effectiveness of our ports.”
Speaking at the session, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, also emphasised the need for an intermodal transport system in and around the port environments.
Usman said Nigeria must prioritise intermodal transportation to reap the benefits of shipping and port activities. She said the heads of maritime agencies agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to facilitate the movement of cargo from the ports by rail.
Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, said safety formed a major part of the discussion. Moghalu said all the maritime agencies had agreed to work together to rid the Nigerian waters of unsafe craft and practices that endanger passengers and other users of the waterways.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, said the new synergy among the heads of maritime agencies was a significant building block for efficient economic activities within the country’s maritime domain. Bello said the ultimate aim was to make Nigeria a maritime hub in Africa through efficient and effective maritime operations and infrastructure.
The monthly meeting, which was the second in the series, was also attended by Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello; Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN), Mr. Sam Nwakohu; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Commodore Duja Emma Effedua (rtd).