There is anxiety at West African Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne, Rivers State over what operators described as lack of Berthing spaces for vessels to berth.
The WACT terminal is said to have only three berths, a situation that has led to vessels queuing up for as long as one month before accessing the port.
Speaking with our correspondent in Lagos on Wednesday, National President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Chief Increase Uche raised the alarm, saying that the association have notified the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of the challenge but no steps has been taken so far to address it.
Increase alleged that WACT Terminal has just three berths, whereas, Apapa ports alone has up to twenty berths.
“When these vessels get to the anchorage in Port Harcourt, before they are allowed to access the berth, we heard information that it takes up to three weeks and a month for vessels to berth”
“This is because of the number of berths, the number of berths available are few”
“At WACT today, they have only three berths, and when they have up to ten vessels waiting, they would have to queue until the one that enters discharges and comes out. Another thing is the political will of the government, because if the government had before now heeded to the call for a deep sea port, all these challenges would have become a thing of the past”
Increase laments that the cost of importing goods through the Eastern Ports is much more higher than what is obtainable in Lagos.
Meanwhile, NAGAFF has entered into a working partnership with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) on membership drive.
While briefing our correspondent on the visit of LCCI delegation to the NAGAFF headquarters on Wednesday, Increase said the move was LCCI wanting to get NAGAFF members registered with body.
According to him, the chamber happens to be the biggest and oldest so far and right now, it is canvassing for membership.
“We advised them that we are equally a big organization and what we need to put in place is modalities for partnership, the role we play is so enormous in the entire chain, we don’t only do public advocacy role, we are also into human capacity development”
“We agreed with them to get our members registered, those that are interested and are corporate bodies. But looking at the NAGAFF , I believe we have often dwelt on the need for human resource development and not just the corporate bodies, you need to develop the capacity to operate these companies”
“In our own business, we emphasize more on individuals which is the basis, we want to start from the scratch and build a foundation that with endure.
There should be succession, and it is only when you have trained individuals working in the company that succession can apply”
“So we kicked against the area where they said the membership of the chamber are corporate bodies, so we told them that it is against our own practice, we are in the advocacy that individuals and a natural person should equally be given that opportunity to thrive”
“They agreed with us and said they would present it to their management on how to partner with NAGAFF”
Increase also advised the LCCI to collapse its Export Group, one of the 24 arms of the chamber into its Freight Forwarders group, which is another arm of the chamber.
“It was a fruitful deliberation because we touched on some salient areas, we tried to let them know that the various groups they have numbering up to 24, and freight forwarding group is one of them”
“They also have the export group, so we told them that such arrangement is a misnoma, the export group should be part of the freight forwarding group because in our own setting, export and import are all under freight forwarding, you can only separate it by calling them shippers”
The LCCI team was led by William Odah.