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Foundation of shipping operations and transport management

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shipTHE book under review, Foundations of Shipping Operations and Transport Management written by Obed B. Ndikom, a lecturer in the Department of Maritime Management Technology, Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) is one in the series of books written by the author.

The author, who holds a Doctorate Degree in Maritime Management Technology, specializing in Shipping Management, Port Reform and Operations from the Federal University of Technology Owerri, is a prolific writer.

He has written close to five published books in maritime and transport management, and over 55 published articles in foreign and local peer-reviewed journals.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics Transport (FCILT), London. With his depth of knowledge and experience having worked in various capacities, he had no difficulty in coming up with the book and more importantly in choosing an appropriate title. What informed the author to embark on this literary exercise is to address the paucity of professional and technical literature required to guide not only policy makers in making positive decisions especially in a dynamic world of shipping but also for students of maritime studies as well as stakeholders in general.

The book, which is a 22 chapter master piece with 486 pages is segmented into shipping operations and transport management, international trade and shipping services, shipping market, shipping and port finance, shipping demand, human resource management, strategic management, port production, maritime labour, sea transport geography among others.

The author did not leave his readers in suspense as to the correlation between shipping and international trade. And in a very lucid language, he posits that shipping is a cardinal component of international trade. Without shipping and other shipping related activities he argued, it would be difficult for a meaningful international trade, commerce and commercial related transactions between nations to triumph.

Other principles and concepts of international trade including the 1996 import guidelines and procedures as well as the impact of international trade on maritime environment were extensively dealt with by the author, in the first chapter with a title, International Trade and Shipping services.

Chapter two went deep into Transport Demand and Shipping services. He x- rayed the role of maritime transport in National Development, Demand for Sea Transport, Supply of sea transport as well as shipping market amongst others.

The author went back into history of the nation’s port industry since 1960 while discussing Seaport Concession and the National Economy in chapter three of he book. While stressing on the inconsistency in government policies, the author in this chapter argued that such must have been responsible for the serious operational vices and sharp practices witnessed in the system.

The Port Reforms, Seaport Concessioning as well as the impact of government policy on port reform got the author’s attention and were extensively handled by him.

He concluded the chapter by saying that the reform policy has led to infrastructural development in line with the current globalization of port services.

A note of warning however was what he left behind for his readers on the need for control to prevent needless competition, duplication of efforts and measures that may harm the overall development of the industry and above all the reconciliation of public interest with economic efficiency and financial soundness.

The next chapter that attracts much attention is on Transhipment Process and Operations. He categorised the purpose of transhipment, the major determinants of transhipment such as availability of an array of high frequency feeder services connecting the hub with its network of feeder ports, availability of modern high-tech infrastructure (e.g. berths, cranes and container storage space) as well as equipments that allow for a quick turnaround time of large vessels.

Chapter five of the book dwelt on ship to ship transfer operations which according to him is also known as lightering operations in which crude oil or petroleum products are transferred between two seagoing tankers that are moored alongside each other at high sea. He went ahead to highlight the significance of the operations to the overall earnings of a port both in terms of revenue, port efficiency, effectiveness, output, operational performance, etc.

The author however in the subsequent chapter painted a gloomy picture of Nigerian Ports as he focused on the delay factors in the ports.

He opened the chapter by saying that the ports have been meshed in serious congestion problems, fraudulent and sharp practices that have led to inefficiency and unproductiveness. He went further to enumerate some of the causes of port
operational inefficiencies such as berth congestion, yard productivity, cumbersome documentation and clearing procedures, among others.

Chapter seven dealt extensively on ship finance, government intervention in shipbuilding, credit, and demand functions of the shipbuilding market as well as the technical aspects of ship management and financial aspects of ship
management. He concluded the chapter with investment aspects of ship management.

Port Finance, Costs and Charges were also extensively treated. The author opened chapter eight of the book which has the title Port Finance, Costs and Charges with an assertion that the Nigerian maritime industry and its
port sub-sector have, over the years, suffered seriously from lack of funding and proper financial investments in infrastructures and equipment.

Similarly, port charges and dues which according to the author is principally referred to as the price required by any ports authority for services rendered would make an interesting reading.

The author engaged the attention of his readers in chapter nine with an analytical expose on port productivity strategy.

He explained that port productivity is considered as the level of efficiency, effectiveness and vibrancy which a particular port is operating at and of course within the confines of the law.

The author further stressed in the chapter that issues regarding to high tariffs in Nigeria, which over the years, have been the highest in West and Central African sub-region also compounded the problem of low productivity and operational efficiency.

This chapter on Maritime Labour Strategy, traced the history of dock labour in Nigeria which before 1949 was casual and not regularised. Reforms according to the author came the way with Decree 37 of 1999 that set up the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC). He then concluded that the merger of JOMALIC and NMA was aimed at improving the job outings and
opportunities of master mariners and seafarers in the industry.

The author did not loose sight in stressing the significant role the dock workers could play to move the sector forward and the need to give concerted efforts towards the training of this critical group of personnel.

The book has this interesting chapter that dwelt extensively on Management of Marine Environment and the critical role it could play for the smooth operations in the sector. The significance of environment on port operations were not left
out as the author extended his work to include legal framework for marine environmental protection, harbour pollution and causes of harbour pollution and its effects.

He cautioned that care should be taken to always strike an optimum balance between maritime activities and the marine environment.

Ship Registration got the attention of the author. And in dealing with the topic, the author maintained that the certificate of registration is the most vital paper of a ship. He highlighted on the development in the sector that is giving rise to national fleets and shipping consortium as well as the rationale for owing national fleets.

In chapter 13, the author did not leave his readers to guess or doubt his depth of knowledge on sea transport geography. His treatment of this topic appear to be quite commendable especially on his depth of analysis and information on the Atlantic Maritime Area (AMA), the International Shipping Routes and Major International Waterways (canals).

He was very equivocal in recommending for the establishment of transport geography as an academic discipline that should be given serious consideration in addressing the challenges in human movement, especially in the navigational
process in all transport modes i.e. air, land, sea, rail and pipeline.

Strategic Management is one topic the author would wish his readers to take note as he devoted a total of 39 pages of the book in dealing with this topic in chapter 18.

He took time to discus strategic planning management process and strategies of strategic management and certain reasons for poor or no strategic planning in organisations and guidelines for effective strategic management.

The Management of Human Resources in chapter 19 got an extensive treatment by the author. He argued that the management and control of human resources in the port industry has been left in the hands of managers who do not understand the rudiments of staffing and operations in the port system. He emphasised that the administration and management of human resources and labour- related activities in a transport organisation is a big challenge for today’s managers.

The chapter dealt with management of human resources and labour relations, manpower planning and forecasting as well as the future of manpower needs in the sector amongst others.

In chapter 20, the author veered into vehicle and road maintenance techniques. Nature and structure of road maintenance and types of preventive maintenance as well as corruption, road safety education and other challenges as part of the problems posing a major challenge to the transport sector, was highlighted by him.

Road and branch Relationship in Transport Management Planning got the attention of the author as he analysed the transport management planning as an interactive process as well as importance of transport management planning in organisations in addition to principles of transport planning and steps of transport planning.

The final, which is chapter 22 of the book is on Law of Business and Carriage of goods by Sea. The chapter dwelt extensively on the global nature of shipping activities.

The author took time to define certain rules and laws that guide and shape global shipping business such as contracts of records, sealing and delivery, indenture and deeds polls, carriage of goods and rights of carriers etc.

He however devoted reasonable pages of the chapter on the Hamburg Rules – the UN Convention of the Carriage of Goods (SEA. 1978). Having gone through the 486 page book of 22 chapters, one would be right to conclude that the author was able to achieve, to a great extent, the set objective by him to address the paucity of professional and technical literature
in the sector.

The book, by every standard is readable and technically accurate. And what is very appealing is the language he employed in driving home his points which is not tilted but natural.

However, while trying not to super-impose my thought which could be regarded as a subjective reaction over the thought and original concept of the author, permit me to make these observations: When one looks at the book which is over 147, 870 words, one will definitely expect some proof reading challenges. These were identified in pages 45 where the author has “ prices of others good” instead of “ prices of other Goods”. In page 137 “ ………while retaining full ownership” “ instead of “… while retaining full ownership … “.

Furthermore in page 193, “… as against the expected 5 days eve… “ instead of … as against the expected 5 days even … “
Due to time constraints, other pages where such proof reading errors appeared are in pages 197, 205, 206 and 214.
Similarly, the author did not properly adhere to the standard practice in arrangement in book writing and publishing by setting aside some pages of his book for glossary, indexing, references and footnotes.

What he did was to devote some pages to define certain terminologies instead of having them as glossaries. It is therefore on this note that I say that even if all the books in the entire maritime library in the country are set ablaze, the book: Foundations of Shipping Operations and Transport Management should be spared. Therefore recommend this not only for policy makers but also for students of maritime studies and stakeholders alike.

• Bello is Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC)



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