Terminal operators seek subsidy on freight for landlocked nations

The Nation on March 18, 2014

The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to subsidise the landlocked countries’ transactions at the seaports.

The group said handling transshipment cargo for Nigeria’s landlocked neighbouring countries is not commercially viable.

STOTAN said the conditions under which NPA handled transshipment cargoes in the pre-port concession era were not favourable to the ports.

It said terminal operators would handle transshipment cargoes of the landlocked nations only if NPA was willing to pay the shortfall charged by shippers of the affected countries.

Its Chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup, who spoke in Lagos, said that unless NPA was willing to subsidise the landlocked countrits’ transactions, her members would not have anything to do with their cargoes.

She said the rates which NPA charged the landlocked countries, including Chad and Niger Republic for the handling of the consignments, were too low .

“NPA as a government agency, was probably playing the normal “big brother” role to the neighbouring African countries, but we are private people, we cannot do that ‘Father Christmas’ for anybody. If the land-locked countries are ready to pay the normal rates in cargo handling, we will be very willing to do business with them,” she said.

The STOAN chairman said the concessionaires at the seaports had achieved a lot in the past eight years of port concession.

“We are proud of our achievements at the ports these past eight years. We have done a lot. We have improved operation and modernised the ports. Before now, equipment and cargo availability were a huge challenge at the ports. Vessels had to queue endlessly to secure berthing space. The ports were run down, but the story is different. We have port terminals that Nigerians measures to port terminals in developed countries and that Nigerians can be proud of,” she said.

Haastrup also said the port environment is congested due to the activities of non-core port operations including tank farms which she said are “too close to the ports