06 August 2015, Lagos – The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, has said that it spends over N5bn annually to generate power for its operations.
In an interview with our correspondent, the STOAN spokesperson, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, said the situation had made things more difficult for terminal operators as they were operating under very harsh conditions. He said it was one of the key challenges being faced at the ports.
He said, “Under the concession agreement, terminal operators should not be providing power for themselves but this has been the situation since 2006.
“This has not been easy; we have some terminals that purchase as much as six million litres of diesel annually to power their operations. Others require more.”
Two terminal operators, the Apapa Bulk Terminal and the Integrated Logistics Facilities and Services, are said to currently operate their own independent power plants.
Akinola said, “The road infrastructure too is an issue; the bad roads leading to the ports have also created a whole lot of bottlenecks for port operations. Aside from that is the dwindling volume of vehicle cargo traffic.
“One of our members had to reduce his workforce by 10 per cent. It was a tough decision that the company had to take because it is suffering from the auto policy, which has effectively reduced vehicle cargo traffic to their terminal. The terminal is currently operating at about 40 per cent of its capacity because vehicle cargo traffic to the terminal has slumped by 60 per cent as a result of the national automotive policy. Meanwhile, other types of cargo in other terminals have also dropped by 30 per cent.
“In order to stay afloat, the terminal operator was forced to reduce his workforce. We would like to ask the government to look into these policies that are taking cargo away from our ports and making it difficult for terminal operators to break even.”
Electricity supply to the ports and the deplorable state of the port access roads have been a major concern for terminal operators. And they had to raise the issues with the new General Manager of the Western Ports, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mr. Michael Ajayi, during a familiarisation visit to the Apapa and Tin Can ports last month.
To address the problem of insufficient electricity supply to the ports, the Western Ports GM had said the NPA would before the end of the year provide a 250KVA generator for the ports.
He described poor electricity supply as a challenge being experienced by everyone in the country and lamented the electricity bills as running into millions of naira.
He said, “We recognise that electricity is a major problem being experienced by everyone. In developed countries, ports run on electricity. Running our ports on an alternative source is not easy as the price of diesel does not help matters.”
Ajayi had also said that it was his mandate to render improved services to terminal operators hence, the familirisation visit.
He admitted that the NPA was aware of the state of the roads in Apapa, adding, “The areas between the port gate and Area B Police Command are really bad. Although some of these roads are federal roads, the NPA will address the immediate access roads. Already, a long term solution is being sought and discussed with the authorities at Abuja. The Federal Road Maintenance Agency is responsible for road maintenance; we are meeting with them soon.”