As part of efforts to become more competitive amongst ports in the West African Sub-region, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has commenced an aggressive moves towards infrastructure and equipment renewal, with the upgrading of its Control Tower at Apapa port and Tin Can Island Port to enhance communications with visiting vessels and reduce vessel turnaround time.
Speaking at the commissioning yesterday, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the authority placed renovation and equipping of the facilities on priority, as they would reduce emergency response and disaster risk while enhancing communication.
According to him, the communication and data-generating facility will enhance the capacity to collate, organise and distribute vessel data with relevant stakeholders in a consistent format
He said this is coming at a time when a series of efforts geared towards having a Port Community System (PCS) necessary to make the country’s ports more competitive and attractive to greater vessel traffic is beginning to crystallize.
Bello-Koko explained that safety and security constitute critical operational preconditions necessary for the actualisation of the country’s strategic intent of becoming the maritime logistics hub for sustainable port services in Africa.
He said this is why the agency placed high priority on putting in place a modern control tower to enhance the country’s domain awareness capability.
“Given the decrepit and non-functional state we met this facility, the decision to invest so much towards making it the state-of-the-art and well-equipped edifice was made taking cognizance of the need to equip our highly cherished and well-trained marine talents with the right tools and comfort required to deliver efficient services to our stakeholders.
“Sustainably providing efficient port service in a safe, secure, and customer-friendly environment requires that we ensure and assure that we are up to date in terms of skill and equipment. We are resolved to continually equip and re-equip this facility whilst training and re-training its users to be best-in-class,” he said.
Bello-Koko further disclosed that the authority is in partnership with the Nigerian Navy to have signal stations rehabilitated, re-equipped and located near the naval base for improved communication.
He said the authority is also in partnership with NLNG Ship Management Limited (NSML) to provide Vessel traffic services (VTS) that will improve operational efficiency.
Also speaking, the Harbour Master, Lagos Pilot District, Captain Daniel Hosea, said the control tower, which is the first point of contact for every foreign vessel coming into the port, was in a terrible state and not habitable.
He said the elevators in the 11-floor tower were not working, as well as no electricity, water and other faults, making it difficult to communicate with vessels berthing at the ports.
He said with the rehabilitation of the control towers, there will be smooth and efficient signal communication between the vessels and the ports, as well as safety of channels to prevent vessels collision in and out of the port.
Hosea said it will also ensure improvement in the reduction of delays in vessels waiting time at the ports.
The Port Manager, Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Charles Bamidele Okaga, said the control tower is a very vital infrastructure that aids the navigation of vessels while calling for support to ensure sustainability and maintenance of the facility and equipment in it.