An operator at the Lagos port complex on Monday claimed that the Eastern ports lack the capacity to handle vessels that will be diverted from Lagos ports because of their shallow Channels draught.
A senior Manager at APM Terminal, Apapa told Journalists that he feared other challenges such as lack of enough berth, yard space, cargo handling equipment will make it difficult for the directive to be successful.
It was learnt that the Lagos ports -Apapa and Tin-Can Island have a channel draught of 13meters, the eastern ports have a much lower channel draught.
Port Harcourt port has seven meters channel draught, while the Calabar ports has a 6.4 meters draught.
With a draught of 6.4 meters, the channel can only attract flat bottom vessels which doesn’t ply Nigerian ports and much smaller vessels with less than 100TEUs.
However, the source who doesn’t want his name in print because he is not authorised to speak, said if Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports that have more cargo handling equipment than the whole of Eastern ports has congestion challenge how will they handle the directive.
He said, “we know it is an emergency and a stop gap but we should ask whether there is capacity where we are diverting the cargoes to?
“What is their yard space, cargo handling equipment and draught?
“If Tin-Can Island and Apapa ports can’t handle the volume of cargo how will eastern port handle the congestion?
“Most of the vessels that called at Eastern ports called at Apapa and Tin-Can Island first to discharge to become lighter before they go to Onne,” he stated.
The APMT senior manager also said there is need to improve infrastructures at the Lagos ports, saying the congestion occurred because the roads cannot accommodate the volume of cleared cargoes from the seaports.
“We need to expand the infrastructures because can the road can not accommodate the volume of discharged cargoes.
“If we discharged goods and there is no road to evacuate it, there will be congestion,” he said.
Recalls that the NPA had announced last week Friday that as from 27th of January 2020, any vessel that has waited to berth at any terminal within the Lagos Pilotage District for four days without space will be diverted to other terminals with capacity to berth vessels within the district or to the Eastern ports.
In a statement signed by the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications Department of NPA, Eng Adams Jatto, the decision was taken in response to the recent increase in the waiting time of vessels calling at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.
Jatto said the directive was given after NPA has met with shipping companies and terminal operators and that the decision is aimed at immediately resolving the congestion in the Lagos Pilotage District.
He said “The Authority will liaise with other relevant government agencies on behalf of stakeholders to expedite the clearance of vessels and cargoes, where necessary.
“These actions have been taken to promote the Ease of Doing Business Policy of the Federal Government and curtail the negative economic impact that the long turnaround time of vessels had on stakeholders.
“We solicit the cooperation of all stakeholders,” Jatto stated.