Cargo dwell time (CDT) in the nation’s seaports has dropped from 10 days to three, the Chairman, Seaport Terminals Operators of Nigeria (STOAN), Mrs. Victoria Haastrup, has said.
Haastrup’s clarification is coming on the heels of claims in some quarters that the ills that bedeviled the nation’s seaports are yet to be holistically addressed, a decade after conclusion of the concession programme by the federal government.
The concession programme, which was initiated by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo led to the handover of the day-to-day running of the port to concessionaires.
Since the conclusion of the exercise in 2006, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is no longer in charge of cargo handling as was the case in the pre-concession era.
The Authority, which presently has Alhaji Habib Abdullahi as the Managing Director is now saddle with the maintenance of common users services such as the maintenance of the channels and pilotage.
STOAN Chairman who is also the Executive Vice Chairman of ENL Consortium Limited in a statement, maintained that the concession of the nation’s seaports situated at Lagos, Warri, Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Onne was a big blow to the ones located in Nigeria’s neighbouring countries.
She said: “In fact, when Nigerian ports were concessioned, it was a big blow to them, a big loss. I have always referred to it. Nigeria has improved tremendously from what it used to be. Dwell time of ship has reduced drastically. That shows the efficient nature of the port. I have always said that time is also of essence in this business.
When you bring in your ship, we can discharge your vessel very quickly. Dwell time for vessel has reduced from ten days to three days. That in essence is a reduction in cost. To us, that is efficiency and that is reduction in cost”.
She decried a situation where everyone, especially the interim regulator, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) singled out terminal operators alone for all the ills plaguing the port system without taking into consideration other factors and stakeholders who are also key players in the maritime industry.
“Everyone is talking about rent imposed on containers and other types of cargo, I could give you a table, that shows that the cost in Nigeria is very cheap in terms of cargo rent in the port. There are a lot of things that also contribute to increase in cost. You are looking at the terminal operators alone. You need to look at other port users who are also operating in the port system. I mean who looks at what the even freight forwarders are charging, we know it”, she said.
According to her, if there was a problem I will expect somebody will come and talk to us, not to go and publish them on the pages of newspapers or air them on radio or television and order us to go back to 2009 tariff. That is six years down the line? Where is it done anywhere in the world? The cost of running the port is not the same. Labour, welfare, wages are not the same, we have been negotiating with labour on a biannual basis, so cost of doing business is not the same. Even cost of equipment. The essence of port reform is to bring down cost of doing business. Anybody saying cost of doing business has not reduced is not saying the obvious fact.
She maintained that nobody has regulated other people that are operating or doing business within the port system and MAKING MONEY, pointing out that it was wrong to look at the port operators alone.
“That is not enough and it is not fair. We are the one doing the real core job. We
are the one that incur expenses. Has government revenue been enhanced as a result of port concession? Government has realized that a buoyant alternative source of income for Nigeria is the maritime sector, because government knows that through the Nigerian Customs Service, and by extension, the ports”, Haastrup added.