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‘Development of ports’ infrastructure critical to economic growth, prosperity’




IT is imperative that Nigeria continues to build necessary maritime infrastructure required to handle prospective growth in international trade, the country manager, APM Terminals, David Skov, has said.

According to Skov, ports play an important part in societies such as trade enablers, employers and centers of technology.
Speaking at the just concluded 2015 Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX), Skov explained that ports are even more critical in developing countries, “where they can facilitate economic growth and promote social development and prosperity”.

Skov said efficient terminals ‘such as APM Terminals Apapa’, promote economic development through higher cargo capacity and increased productivity.

He explained that trade produces a positive impact on many areas of development across the society, adding that it provides easier access to goods and services, technologies and knowledge.

Presenting a paper titled: “Building Economic Capacity through Maritime Infrastructure Development-The APM Terminals Perspective, Skov said ports stimulates entrepreneurship, creates jobs and fosters vital learning processes.

APM Terminals, according to Skov had invested not less than $350 million (N80.5 billion) in yard expansion since port concession commenced in 2006.

He explained that the management had also increased the berth depth from 10.5 metres to 13.5 metres; purchased container-handling equipment; and linked the rail tracks with the national rail network.

Skov said: “APM Terminals has also established a world-class training centre and crane simulation facility for our employees in Nigeria, and is also training crane operators from across the APM Terminals Global Network.

“Our investments in information technology have seen significant improvement in invoicing and tracking of accounts payable, improving cash flow and financial performance.

“With these investments in infrastructure and human capital; we are pleased to say that APM Terminals Apapa is one of the most modern and efficient terminals in Africa and a key transportation hub.

“The investments made at APM Terminals Apapa in preparedness to receive larger vessels have made it a more competitive port of call and is increasing employment opportunities,’’ he said.

Skov said that at present, the largest ships calling at the port had a 4, 500 TEUs capacity (20 ft. container equivalent), while the Lome hub could host vessels with capacities that were as high as 8,000 TEUs.

“The port infrastructure plays an important role in the size of the vessels that call at various ports.

“Over the past 20 years, container vessels have grown from 6,000 TEUs to 19,000 TEUs capacity and are still growing.

“Not too long ago, vessels with 1,700 TEUs capacity were common in the nation’s ports. This has changed with the infrastructure developments in the sector and with more investments,’’ he said.

According to him, larger vessels will call at the nation’s ports, which will significantly enhance the productive capacity of the country and improve the prosperity of its citizens with lower costs.

“This means that only ports and terminals with sufficient depth, quay front and equipment can accommodate these new larger vessels.

“This also means that ports with better access roads will be able to facilitate faster the trade requirements of the future.
“Our commitment to lifting global trade is reflected in APM Terminals’ continuous investment in infrastructure.

“The port industry, however, does not have the luxury of being able to simply react to changes in the market environment.

“We must be able to anticipate and deliver the terminal capacity and productivity that our customers will require,’’ the Country Manager said.

He said that the company’s challenge was the discrepancy in lead times for construction.

According to him, a vessel construction schedule may be calculated in months but a new container terminal design and development schedule must be calculated in years.

Skov said that the decisions of the company could be made much further in advance, as long as a decade in some instances.
He recalled that, “A bold move to concession Nigerian seaports was made in 2006.’’

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