The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman has said that the agency is engaging the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on how to sustain security at the eastern ports.
The eastern ports including Calabar Port, Onne, Port Harcourt, has lost patronage from importers and shipping companies due to insecurity in the region.
The NPA boss while speaking on a television programme on Tuesday noted that the agency has taken steps to revive the eastern ports and it intends to sustain the momentum it is currently yielding.
The agency in recent past had offered concessions to users of the eastern port, even as it made attempts to divert cargoes from Lagos terminals when there are no spaces to berth.
Hadiza also said that NPA is working with the Nigeria Customs Service, Terminal Operators and other stakeholders to fast track cargo evacuation as well as deployment of scanning machines to the port.
“We will continue to engage with our stakeholders. We recognise that we must enhance efficiency, we must ensure that consignees come to clear their cargoes within the time limit.
“Some of the things we are doing is pushing to ensure that vessels come in good time and are evacuated without delay. We do have attendant challenges as I mentioned, because the waiting time within our ports is not in the optimal manner that we would like it to be.
“We are working seriously with the Terminal Operators and Nigerian Customs to fast track the process of evacuating cargoes and also importantly, the inspection of cargoes.
“This is something that is great priority for the Ports Authority, for the Nigerian Government, more so for the Nigeria Customs.
“We need to deploy scanners in our ports so that cargoes can be inspected using scanners. Right now as a lot of consignees are aware, cargoes are inspected physically.
“So, having the entire cargo that come into Nigeria being physically examined, you would look at how difficult and challenging that would be and the time frame with which we would have that attendant longer window because the inspection officers would have to literally have to open all the containers that come in.
“So, ensuring that we deploy scanners are key for us and ensuring that we put in place automation mechanism for improving efficiency. “As you are aware, we had a challenge with APM Terminal, one of our largest container terminals in the last few months but they have complied with all the regulations and have imported all the necessary equipment/cranes needed for fast evacuation of cargoes and indeed that’s what we need.
“We need responsible terminal operators that would adhere to development plans within the concession agreement. However, if they don’t adhere, we would sanction them.
“With APM Terminals, you can now see that those cranes have been deployed and are now working seriously with Nigerian Ports Authority in improving on their operational efficiency”