A Vessel At the Apapa Port
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has promised to look into accommodation challenges faced by freight forwarders doing business inside various concessioned terminals at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC) in Apapa.
Port Manager of the Lagos Port Complex of NPA, Aisha Ali Ibrahim gave the assurance when the Apapa chapter of the International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) led by its Chairman, Osita Patrick Chukwu paid a working visit to her office.
In his opening address, the IFFA Chairman, Osita Chukwu, noted that unlike the customs, other regulatory agencies and labor unions, freight forwarders do not have any accommodation inside the port, whereas they are part of the value chain in port operations. He said there has been an increase in the number of deaths recorded inside the port due to the harsh conditions and unconducive environment freight forwarders were subjected to.
On the issuance of port passes as a criterion for accessing the port, Osita kicked against constant harassment of IFFA members, arguing that the ports have not been automated enough to the level of international best standard to warrant these.
The IFFA Commended the port manager for implementation of ISPS code, the recent launch of a canteen and taking food vendors away from port premises. He noted that “Before now, people will go for wedding ceremonies, secure excess food and they package it to sell inside the port, this is why many of them are getting sick”
Urging NPA to provide accommodation for IFFA members, he said “We have some containers inside APMT that customs was using as their offices, now that a proper office has been given to the Customs, we should be allocated one of the containers for our office” “Make us feel as part of you, so that you will know how to contact us at any point in time, the container office will stop people from loitering inside the port”
Containers At Apapa Port
“I want you to use your good office as port manager to give us at least one of these containers, let us paint it and renovate it, put our association name on i. “If you go to the examination bay during raining season, you would see agents carrying their documents and rain is falling on them, some of them slum because they are tired, even the customs offices do not have air conditioning, this has led to some of us dying early, the port is full of obituaries now, we are yet to bury some of them”
“There is nothing you can do for your country citizen to appreciate them more than to provide a conducive environment for operation” he pleaded. Osita informed the port manager that the association has written the terminal operator, APM Terminal severally, but they were informed that the solution it is under the purview of NPA.
“We want to have a robust synergy with you to ensure that both IFFA and NPA work harmoniously to ensure that most of the things that have served as problems and barrier in port operations will be cut down at least by 95%. “When you visit other ports around the country, you will find out that some of the challenges we have at Apapa port are not being experienced there, our own is manmade problems”
“Corruption has been a bane in our port operations; we need to sanitize our ports for us to get a good rating internationally. Most of us freight forwarders are not being given the support we deserve from the federal government” he said
Responding to the requests, the port manager, Aisha Ali Ibrahim noted that the shed 6, where the freight forwarders are targeting their office has been concessioned to APM Terminals. She however assured that she would take up the matter with the concessionaire. Aisha noted that in bringing Nigerian ports to international standard, the NPA needs corporation of all her critical stakeholders, adding that the IFFA association support is highly needed.
She urged the freight forwarders to make use of the NPA food canteen inside the port, adding that it is also the responsibility of every terminal to provide a good canteen for their customers.
Members of IFFA
“We have noted all your observations and appeal. There would be a stakeholders meeting on Friday, most of the issues that concern us and APMT will be thrashed out”
“This is the way we can help, we would let APMT know that apart from their own personnel, we still have customers that spend so much time with them and they should organize a place for them”