Disquiet over firms’ claims to Onne Port terminal
The situation leading to Intel’s call for cancellation of International Container Terminal Service (ICTSI’s) investments in Onne Port, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has continued to raise dust as stakeholders and international media probe into the matter.
Onne Port Complex is one of the largest oil and gas free zone in Africa, where major industry players from the exploration up to the completion phases operate.
The Integrated Logistics Services Limited, simply known as Intels had in its publications claimed it is the legitimate lessee of the berth 0/10/11 and of the land behind them at the Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne Rivers state, alleging that it was an ‘abuse’ for ICTSI to keep occupying that land.
The world-renowned logistics industry magazine “Port Strategy” of London, United Kingdom (UK), in a latest article published in its June 2021 edition, described ICTSI’s entry into Eastern Nigeria’s Onne Port as very necessary introduction of competition and investments into a port too long dominated by vested interests protecting their monopolies. And it sees Intels’ reaction as that of a monopolist trying to maintain its market and pricing power in the face of new competition.
Port Strategy pointed out that Onne Port, which is the only major modern port in Eastern Nigeria has long been monopolized by Intels Nigeria for Oil and Gas cargo and West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) for containerized imports.
The article argued that the monopoly has been combined with very aggressive pricing on the part of Intels towards oil and gas customers (Port Strategy refers to Intels being allowed to “print money”) and that this has been confirmed by Nigeria’s main oil and gas sector companies who are desperately looking for alternatives to Intels to reduce their supply base logistics costs, which are “some of the highest in the world”.
On the containerized cargo side, which is the most important mode of imports for the Nigerian consumer, Port Strategy argues that West Africa Container Terminal, has enjoyed a monopoly without sufficient investments which is now resulting in lack of port capacity and very long waiting times for customers waiting for their cargo.
Port Strategy concludes that: “ICTSI has clearly arrived in Onne Port when there is a manifest need for new competition.
According to port users, it is a welcome change and one that represents progress in the nationwide drive to deliver competitive port and logistics services.’
ICTSI Chairman and President, Enrique Razon Jr., had earlier said: “We will progressively align OMT’s facilities and service capacity to the needs of the diverse customer base the terminal ins intended to serve,” he added.
OMT Managing Director, Jacob Gulmann, said ICTSI is pleased to work with the Nigerian Ports Authority in bringing the area back to life and introducing much-needed capacity and competition to the port: “Berths 9 to 11 had been languishing, lying virtually unused for the last decade. Now, in partnership with the Nigerian Port Authority, we are bringing the area to life, adding capacity and competition to Onne Port. This is sorely needed as the port is currently experiencing acute congestion with respect to container traffic.”
The suspended Managing Director of NPA, Ms. HadizaBala-Usman, had earlier disclosed that the decision of the federal government to end the monopoly of Intels was in national interest and to ensure a level playing field for all terminal operators.
“So I refuse to have the narrative around the monopoly to be reduced to a personal thing. Removal of monopoly is in the interest of the country and you also look at who are the beneficiaries of the removal of the monopoly, are they seen to be people you want to politically support. What matters is that Nigeria as a country benefits from the removal of the monopoly, and in so doing, many people will benefit, business entities will fly because of the removal of the monopoly.
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