25 June 2015, Lagos – Shippers from the Republic of Niger have signified their intention to use Nigerian ports to move their cargo.
He was received by the AMPT Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Femi Ransome-Kuti, the Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Basal Sunni and Chief Operations Officer, Mr. Lawerence Smith, among others.
Bello said a delegation of shippers from Niger was due to visit Nigeria in August to assess the nation’s ports.
He said, “We are in competition with other ports because the destination of cargo is at the feet of the consignee and the consignee will always go where everything is favourable to him.
“This is why we are here to partner with you on how to make our ports better. Already, we are expecting Nigerien shippers in August; they are coming here to examine the readiness of our ports for business. This is happening because we have been marketing Nigerian ports to them.”
Bello added that it was important that stakeholders should cooperate with the council to eliminate problems inhibiting the efficiency of Nigerian ports.
For instance, he said there were problems with the clearing of cargo and the continuous breakdown of scanners used in the examination of cargo.
He said, “We want Nigeria to be the preferred destination of cargo; that is why it is important that we compare notes. We met with the Nigeria Customs Service last week to discuss the problems affecting cargo clearing process across all the commands.
“There are problems relating to infrastructure, scanners breaking down or being virtually nonexistent and epileptic power supply to the ports. The traffic situation has also not helped matters because shippers are unable to evacuate their containers from the ports whenever it arises.”
Bello praised the APMT management for ensuring that cargo was being evacuated to the Inland Container Depots.
He said though the evacuation of cargo to off dock terminals was presently at 60 per cent, the council was in talks with the customs to increase the volume.
He said the continuous evacuation of cargo to the ICDs for examination would go a long way in resolving some of the problems being experienced at the ports.
He said, “One of the reasons why the ports were reformed was to reduce the cost of doing business while making it easier at the same time. I can say now that our ports are gradually moving towards professionalism.
“We are making progress in professionalising freight forwarding groups and truckers because we can’t have just everyone coming into the ports.
“The council is working for you; we will ensure that government agencies don’t arbitrarily increase their tariffs, especially for you to operate. If it is going to be done, there are ways of doing this because tariffs cannot remain frozen forever. I encourage you to come to us with your challenges so that we take them to the government.”