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Terminal Operators Bemoan Frequent Changes Of Management At Maritime Agencies

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Vicky Haastrup

TERMINAL operators have listed the incessant removal of management of government agencies in the nation’s maritime industry as one of the constraints they have been facing since they took over the port in 2006, saying such removals have been based on political patronage rather than professionalism. They said the attitude of the government was affecting policy implementation, as it does not encourage continuity and international best practice.

The president of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Vicky Haastrub, said in Lagos few days ago that it was important to maintain stability within the agencies in order to encourage continuity in policy implantation for the growth of the industry.

Haastrub, in a good will address at a one day workshop to commemorate eight years of port reform, said the poor implementation of the nation’s Cabotage policy was one of the factors militating against the growth and development of the vital sector, adding that it combined with poor implementation of the international port state control policy to encourage the visit to the Nigerian port by “Aged vessels with archaic handling facilities”.

She listed other challenges facing her members as: arbitrary arrest of vessels at berth and attendant consequences; poor power generating system; friction among maritime statutory agencies due to overlapping functions and lack of national carrier capacity for the UNCTAD 40:40:20 carriage right

The terminal operators also condemned the proliferation of tank farms around the port locations, especially in Lagos, saying they are constituting security risk to the ports and their users. “Concentration of tank farms in the port environment has constituted serious security threat to lives and property, thereby precipitating imminent crises”
The leader of the port concessionaires also complained about the state of access roads to the ports, saying, “ there is over demand on road transport facilities”

The president of the Association listed other challenges militating against the smooth operations at the gateways to include inadequate provision of pilotage facilities, which reduces berth occupancy and utility rate; irregular sweeping of the habour bed, thus reducing draft and endangering vessels berthing; insecurity of vessels at the anchorage and water front of the harbours; Customs delay on ship pratique on arrival; inconsistent cargo release processes in the terminal and delays associated therein even, when goods have been duly released and cleared in line with the ASYCUDA++ concept

According to the STOAN president the concession ports have undergone transformation in the last eight years, as quay areas have been rehabilitated and reconstructed, while many of the inherited Terminals have been expanded.
She said improvement in the facilities could be seen in the rehabilitation of terminal access roads, provision of lightening, generating sets; rehabilitation of sheds and warehouses; reconstruction of drainages; construction of perimeter fencing and gate houses and improved workshop facilities of modern standards

The Terminal operators advised the government to focus on the maritime sector for alternative source of revenue in the face of the continued free fall in the prices of petroleum products



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