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NPCC Chairman Sunmola seeks immediate attention to port operations challenges

Mr. Bolaji Sunmola, the new chairman of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPCC), has called on all stakeholders in the port system to be more concerned about solutions to address challenges confronting port operations.

Sunmola was unanimously adopted as chairman during the NPCC quarterly meeting, which held in Lagos, on 25 January, 2024.  He succeeds the late Otunba Kunle Folarin, who passed away on 8 November, 2022.

Speaking on his immediate plans as chairman of the NPCC, Mr. Sunmola said it was needful for players in the sub-sector to make clear to the government what the challenges facing the operations of the ports are.

“I think there are a lot of challenges in the industry. First, the government needs to be supported, to enable it understand what these challenges are, and the basic rules of operation. These have to be made known to the government. Policies are issued, but no completion. It is a ‘them-and-us’ situation; the operators having different sets of believes and the government having its own as well. But, it is important to address the issues in a holistic way.

“The issues of cargo coming in and going should be looked into. Like someone mentioned earlier today that the Suez Canal is closed and aske why we are not taking advantage of that, or when we have many ships coming in and we now set up all sorts of roadblocks, making it difficult for vessels to come in. We should all be addressing the day-to-day issues confronting port operations; the port corridors and all the attendant challenges of moving in and out of the ports with cargoes, he said.

The NPCC chairman also wants stakeholders to give attention to issues concerning ship turnaround time, just as he highlighted the need for the Nigeria Customs Service to be more concerned about trade facilitation than revenue generation.

His words: “A strong point to be identified with the Customs Service should be trade facilitation. The dichotomy between trade facilitation and revenue generation should be clearly differentiated. We have enough resources that can make money for the country and that should not be a major part of the Customs’ task. It is important for us to make trade possible,” Sunmola said.

He expressed worries that many companies are leaving Nigeria on several excuses including duplication of policy, duplication of tariff and approvals, which could be overwhelming businesses.

Meanwhile, the General Manager in charge of security at the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mr.Mohammed Khalil, had earlier in his report adjudged the security situation across the ports as peaceful and traffic situation along the port corridors manageable as well.

He, however, disclosed that a total of 118 incidents occurred across the ports. Also, the constraints and challenges of the security division according to Khalil, include issues shortage of manpower, manual access control, poor illumination of port common user areas and approaches to the ports, failed portions of some roads along the logistics corridor to the ports affecting the free flow of truck traffic and stowaways’ suspects along the channels/anchorages.

In a separate report, head of the ports operations and security committee of the NPCC, Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu, highlighted the importance of factoring in the peculiarity of the Nigerian Port Business Environment by making effective provisions for traffic management, road maintenance and lighting and security, when a Port Master Plan is being developed.

He also called for caution to be taken to ensure that port operations are not disrupted when major constructions are going to be made as shared by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello Koko, when he addressed the 43rd Annual Council of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) conference in November, 2023.

The NPA MD had made known to the Assembly that “ the scope of this project will span across all port locations and will include: Quay wall and apron, breakwaters, solar lighting, internal roads, gas-powered generators, marine fenders, perimeter fencing, dockyards, control towers, forward operational base, and E-gates,” Ebubeogu said.

Bearing in mind the duties being undertaken by the NPCC, Ebubeogu called for a properly constituted budgetary provision to drive their processes for desired results.


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