Home Maritime NAGAFF President Lauds NPA over Berth of 1st Mega Vessel in Nigeria        …says it’ll develop the eastern ports, decongest Lagos Port        …urges govt on rail linkage with the Port

NAGAFF President Lauds NPA over Berth of 1st Mega Vessel in Nigeria        …says it’ll develop the eastern ports, decongest Lagos Port        …urges govt on rail linkage with the Port

by timenews
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Pearl Ngwama

The President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Mr. Increase Uche, has described the berthing of a mega vessel at WACT Terminal, Onne Port as a welcome development that has met the agitation of stakeholders for the development of the Eastern Ports.

Few weeks ago, history was made in the Country with the berthing of a mega vessel at Onne Port, happening for the very first time at a time that there has been continuous clamour by Maritime stakeholders to develop the ports in the Eastern region.

 

Uche who spoke in an interview with National Business, commended the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) for achieving this feat, saying that it will make the Eastern ports viable and decongest the Lagos Port of its unbearable traffic gridlock, because some importers will now begin to route their containers to Onne Port.

He noted that for a long time traders and merchants from the Eastern Zone have been suffering the consequences of routing their cargoes to Lagos, also stressing that a shipper or merchant will like to select a shipping line or make a choice of port that will be of great profit to his business.

 

His words: “As an advocate of the development of the Eastern ports we see the new development as a good one; we have been agitating that the Eastern ports should not be left to lie fallow.

“The move by the NPA last year to engage vessels to go to the Eastern ports was a good development and we really supported it; that whatever the federal government needs to do to open up the Eastern ports they should do it.

“One thing is very clear, no shipper or merchant will like to select a shipping line or make a choice of port that will not be of great profit to his business. For a long time now we’re all witnesses to the fact that traders or merchants from the Eastern Zone have been suffering consequences of routing their cargoes to Lagos. Most times they do it against their wish and one criteria for choosing a port is nearness to your place of business, of all other criteria that a shipper will always choose before making a choice of port where he could destine his cargo proximity.

“Now that the Eastern ports especially WACT has been developed and the berth area deepened to 11.5 metres and today we’re hearing the good news that one of the biggest vessels to visit Nigeria happened to berth at Onne. We have to give kudos to NPA for they are the ones that created the channel and the berth areas.

“It’s a good encouragement and that will again lead to the patronage of the Eastern ports. Those that have been struggling to bring in their cargoes through rigours of using the Lagos ports can now heave a sigh of relief.”

 

Elaborating on the benefits of the new development, Uche said that traders from Onitsha and Aba can now take advantage of the WACT Terminal in Onne Port to move their cargoes.

He also pointed out that one of the contemporary methodologies to move cargo is by using mega vessels because that gives competitive advantage to the port; like we keep advocating that our ports should be competitive enough because the economics of scale that will be applicable will reduce the freight charges and also help in reducing the constraints always faced by traders who find it difficult even placing order or going into international business.

“Having said that, I want to also give kudos to the federal government; because we’ve been carrying a lot of campaigns concerning the opening up of the Eastern ports, especially connecting it with rail linkage. So, that is another area that the government needs to look into; that they should ensure that integration of all the modes to Onne particularly WACT is taken seriously.

“This will help us also to get prepared in readiness to the free continental area agreement that has been signed by our President so that we can live up to expectation not only concentrating our freight through the ports in Lagos but also expand it to the Eastern area where we have majority of the traders and merchants in the international trade maritime supply chain,” he pointed out further.

 

Continuing, Uche allayed fears that insecurity will pose a challenge to the ultimate use of the Eastern ports and explained that the issue of security is not only prone to Eastern ports rather security risk is all encompassing.

He said that the area fear was rather entertained prior to this time was on the activities of the indigenes that were agitating for resource control but that right now tension has doused even for a very long time.

The NAGAFF President explained that the security of the Eastern ports can now be guaranteed because the owners of OMSL were equally providing security to some of the facilities there, like what they are doing in Lagos.

In line with this, he said stakeholders had been campaigning that the platforms which Navy and the OMSL private operators were using to provide security on our waterways should not be dismantled.

“I think we’ll continue to encourage that and I think that has informed the reason that the security of the Eastern Port can be guaranteed so let people not use it as an excuse or to play politics that will put fears in the minds of the multinationals that the place is not safe.

“Whatever thing that will take place in the Eastern Port in the form of security risk can as well take place within the Lagos maritime zone. So, I know that insecurity is no more an issue to starve the Eastern ports of vessels that will help in mitigating the constraint that traders in the Eastern Zone pass through using the Lagos Port. I think that has been solved. That shouldn’t be a reason anymore because the security issue cuts across every port in the Country,” he explained.

 

Commenting on the sustainability of mega vessels berthing at the Eastern Port, the NAGAFF President stressed that the berthing was not an exaggeration or propaganda but something that actually happened.

He said the shipping companies are now at the liberty of choosing any port they wish, adding that if WAS can sustain the berthing of mega vessel it will not only boost activities at the Eastern ports but also decongest the Lagos Port.

He said: “The good thing is that it wasn’t an exaggeration or propaganda; we have seen it happen, the way the vessel came there and berthed safely and left. I think it now behooves on shipping lines and may be the shippers can now make their choice of port on their own because shipping trade or logistics in shipping is determined by what the shipper sees as the area of attraction

“If WACT as a Terminal, as one of the concessionaires can sustain the of use of this mega vessel to move cargo to Eastern Port I can bet you that in no distance time not only that the patronage of the Eastern ports will overload but congestion at the Lagos Port will also be addressed because majority of those visiting Apapa and Tin Can ports in Lagos are from the East.

“But I must advise the government not to play politics with this development; let them look at it and of course it is the market factor that will determine if the shipping lines could be encouraged by  the volume of cargo that they will be securing overseas destined for the Eastern Port.

“So there is nothing to alarm anybody, we can’t be alarmed because the determinant factor is the traffic flow; the cargo generated for Onne Port from the point of origin and destined to WACT. That is the assurance that it will be sustained.

The President however, said that the development was not about trying to cause a panic in the minds of those who believe in the use of Lagos ports or the concessionaires in Lagos Port. “But I am sure that if the actual determinant of choice of port and selection of shipping lines or shipping company is allowed to flow naturally, those that have been patronising the Lagos ports will not have any other alternative than to shift base into the use of Eastern Port because they have been struggling to retain that kind of arrangement of using the Lagos Port against their will, looking at the constraint some of those traders and merchants from the East face.

“For instance, the cost of moving cargo from Lagos to the East is huge; the amount you pay on haulage is over N1 million to N1.5 million which is even in excess of what is paid on freight from oversea country too Nigeria

“So the trader is looking for profit and where he can reduce cost and I know that the government is sincere and because the purpose of port concession is to reduce cost; no business man will prefer using a port where he will be inheriting liabilities and losses,” Uche said.

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