By Joshua Yousouph
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has tasked the management of AP Moller Terminals (APMT) to see to the restoration of rail linkage for the evacuation of cargoes from the port, particularly to the Inland Dry Ports and hinterlands.
This call was made during a working visit by the management team of APM Terminals to the NSC at its headquarters in Lagos on Wednesday.
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Emmanuel Jime noted that the Council is promoting the establishment of Inland Dry Ports all over the country, adding that it can only be effective through the use of rail to evacuate cargoes to their destinations.
The Shippers’ Council boss who was represented by the Director, Regulatory Services, Mrs Ada Ezedinma stressed that the Minister of Transportation, Mau’zu Sambo has instructed that the rail linkage to the ports should be restored for cargo evacuation. He however stated the Council is looking forward to a collaboration between it, APMT and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to achieve this feat as quickly as possible.
Jime also maintained that Section 4 of the NSC regulation makes it mandatory for all regulated service providers to register with NSC, while urging APMT to ensure all its terminals are duly registered and effective information sharing exists between the Council and the Terminal.
In his words: “Concerning the rail linkage, the Minister has instructed that we should relate with the Nigeria Railway Corporation and ensure that the rail linkage is restored. NSC is promoting the establishment of Inland Dry Ports all over the country. The one in Kano is working and the ones in Funtua and Kaduna have been commissioned and the only way it can be effective is if you use rail to evacuate cargoes to their destination. We want to see how NSC, APMT and the NRC are going to ensure that rail linkage is restored as quickly as possible.
“The Section 4 of the NSC regulation makes it mandatory for all regulated service providers to register with NSC and I believe that the earlier we register with ourselves the better for us because that is the only way we can share information” Jime noted.
In his opening address, the Vice President Regional Managing Director for African-Europe, APM Terminals, Igor Van Den Essen noted that the purpose of the visit was to build an improved collaboration with stakeholders especially on the governing side, bring its expertise as industry leaders and work with the government on projects that will enhance the economy of Nigeria.
Igor stated that APMT as a global investor has significantly invested in Apapa terminal and the Onne terminal adding that it has invested about $150,000 in Onne and hopes to complete the project by third quarter of this year. He also informed that the terminal owns 65 ports with a good system of knowledge sharing and best practice.
“APMT is an international group, we have our plans but we want to be able align better with the government vis a vis the terminal and the port industry and see how we can collaborate better, bring our expertise as industry leaders and work with the government on projects that will enhance the economy of Nigeria especially in respect to the terminal and maritime sector.
“The challenges are first with our process. We are constantly looking at how to improve our process because we need to get the vessels in and out as fast as possible and then we need to make sure there is efficiency so that shippers can have access to their goods. The flow of the goods is not restricted to us on the waterside it is also connected to what happens outside. So the infrastructure outside and also the procedures needs to be more efficient.
“Rail is crucial to the access to the boxes, get them to the terminals and get them to the land. I think that is the journey we have embarked together and where we need to find solutions. I am very encouraged by what I heard today by the NSC and I want to note that the NSC is here as a regulatory body because it is all about objectively looking at the facts. If we do that and we put all the bones in the game then we will reach farther and faster for the country and for the people of Nigeria and that is why we are here” Igor said.
On his part, the Managing Director APMT Nigeria, Frederik Klinke noted that the terminal is committed to assisting Nigeria to increase the share of the containers that goes into scanning processes adding that its terminal in Onne scans up to more than 30 percent of containers in the terminals.
Klinke stressed that it is an extremely important initiative because it is a necessary addition to the traditional evacuation of cargoes by land which will be cost efficient for the shippers to move cargoes in and out of the port. He noted that APMT is very much aligned with the objectives NSC on rail, assuring that its operators are ready to accommodate the rail system.
“The terminal operators are authorized to ease the flow of goods from the port and we are looking at the benefits of using the scanners in cargo inspection. We are very much aligned with your objectives that rail should become much more important. Be rest assured that our operators are ready to accommodate the rail” Klinke said.
Also speaking the Director Consumer Affairs, Chief Catejan Agu, stressed that the Council expects quality service from terminal operators and is also interested in the reduction in cargo dwell time compared with other countries.
While calling for an improved engagement and relationship between both parties, Agu noted that the Council has been fair and unbiased as a regulator and has always been independent in its decision without coercion.
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