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Nigerian ports’ global rating drops

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As inter-port competition increases and private sector investment in port facilities rise in the West African region, efficiency rating at Lagos and Tincan ports, the leaders in the region, has dropped. BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports

Nigeria, which has the biggest seaports in terms of size and throughput among the habours in West Africa, has not played a significant regional role in transit cargo shipment to landlocked countries despite the ease of doing business introduced recently by the Federal Government.

Performance

Efficiency service at the Benin and Senegal ports, which provide transit services for non-coastal countries in the region, is higher than ports in Nigeria.

Currently, ports in Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast are generally being viewed as the leading potential hub. Managing Director, Sceptre Consult Limited, Ayodele Jayeola, for instance, said that West African ports have been noted generally to be highly congested and inefficient when compared with ports in Europe and Asia.

However, he noted that Nigeria ports had fallen far below their global counterparts in key performance indicators. The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, said in Lagos at a stakeholders’ forum that the ports access roads were all in a very poor shape.

Bello said: “If you rate our ports based on some key performance indicators, you will discover that they are also not doing well. Let us not look at the cargo clearing time, the number of days it takes you to clear your cargo at port. “As at 2016, we were still in the range of 19 to 20 days.

As I am talking to you now, Lome port will take you three days to clear your consignment; our neighbouring port of Cotonou will take you seven days; the Port of Durban in South Africa will take you four days; the Port of Munbasa in Kenya will take six days.

“If you look at the demurrage free period, (free number of days given to an importer to take his goods away from the port before they start calculating demurrage), in Nigeria it is five days, after five days you will start paying demurrage on your consignment. But the Port of Benin gives 10 days; Port of Cameroon is 10 days; Chinghai Port in China is 10 days.

“Also looking at the free period (number of days that will stay at the port before you start paying rent) at Nigerian ports, it is around three days; Benin Port is seven days; Port of Ghana is 11 days; Cameroon is 11 days. Bello stressed that in 2014, when the shippers’ council was appointed port economic regulator, terminal handling charges in Nigeria was around N50,000.

In Cotonou Port, it used to be N24,000; in Ghana, it’s N9,773, and as I am talking to you terminal handling charges has been suspended in Ghana.

Measurement

Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, also said that cargoes were spending nearly three weeks on average in sub-Saharan African ports, compared with less than a week in large ports in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Peterside, who stated this while delivering a paper on the significance of maritime regulations and competitiveness of African ports at the conference on port development in Accra, Ghana, listed the competitive measures as including gross moves per hour, berth moves per hour and man-hours per move.

The director general explained that the only factor that will make the ports in Africa to be globally competitive are investments in world class infrastructure, strengthening regulatory frameworks, enhanced institutional cooperation, implementation of one-stop portals such as the national single window and adequate investment in human capital.

Similar port development projects can be found in other West African countries as there is no exclusivity in the selection of a hub by shipping lines.

The selection of a port to act as hub depends on a number of factors. In a recent survey, major shipping lines calling at West African ports were required to rank factors influential to the selection of a hub for the region.

Challenges

However, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, had said that the Nigerian ports could not assume the rating of world-class soon, even as shipping business continues to face series of fiscal and infrastructural challenges.

He noted: “The fact is that the issues around the maritime sector operations are too numerous to combat within a twinkle of an eye. “Turning our ports to world class standard will not happen now, it will take time but we must start from somewhere.

” Last line

There is an urgent need for the government to address the key performance indicators, which can make Nigerian ports compete globally.

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Business

Tough times ahead for local shipping lines

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Unless the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) uses its discretionary power to intervene, indigenous shipping sector may collapse soon as over 80 per cent of their single hall vessels may be debarred from Nigerian waters by 2020, BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports

 

Indigenous ship owners may face another hurdle in the next two years on Nigerian waters as the five years grace given for them to shift from single-hull ships to double hull expire.

 

Also, they would not be permitted to engage in international trade from January 2021 as their certificate extension only covers trade within Nigerian waters till December 31, 2020. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had set 2015 as the initial deadline but it was extended in Nigeria.

 

Already, all foreign registered single hull tankers have been banned from trading on Nigerian waters as mandated by IMO regulations.

 

Reasons for ban

 

The international apex maritime organisation, IMO, had earlier said that tanker ships with single hull often faced problems of leakage of ballast water into cargo because of its design.

 

It noted that single hall vessels had increased the risks of pollution during ballasting and de-ballasting as leaking pipes passing through cargo tanks often contaminate the clean ballast water.

 

Therefore, the maritime organisation explained that double hull would remove this problem with different piping systems. It noted that double hull ships were more susceptible to minor structural failures as compared to the single hull tankers.

 

According the organisation, all single-hull tankers, including the smallest ones which were initially not covered by the scheme, would be subject to the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) from the age of 15 years.

 

The CAS is an enhanced additional inspection scheme specially developed to detect structural weaknesses in single hull tankers.

 

IMO Convention

 

It would be recalled that in April 2001, IMO adopted regulations under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), requiring new tankers of 5,000 dead weight(dwt) and above, to have double hull, mid-deck or equivalent design.

 

It further said that port states were permitted to deny entry to their ports and offshore terminals to single hull tankers operating under such life extensions after 2010, and to double sided or double bottomed tankers after 2015.

 

Affected ships

 

Based on this position, amendments to the MARPOL regulations accelerated the phasing out of single hull tankers to 2005 for Category I vessels and 2010 for Category II vessels. Category I vessels include crude oil tankers of 20,000 deadweight (dwt) and above and product carriers of 30,000 dwt and above that are pre-MARPOL Segregated Ballast Tanks (SBT) carriers. Category II vessels include crude oil vessels of 20,000 dwt and above and product carriers of 30,000 dwt and above that are post-MARPOL SBT vessels.

 

In addition, a Condition Assessment Scheme (“CAS”) will apply to all single hull tankers 15 years or older.

 

However, IMO noted that Flag States may permit the continued operation of Category II tankers beyond 2010, subject to satisfactory CAS results, but only to 2015 or 25 years of age, whichever comes earlier. Category II tankers fitted with double bottoms or double sides not used for the carriage of oil will be permitted to trade beyond 2010 to 25 years of age, subject to the approval of the flag state.

 

NIMASA’s position

 

However, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) extended the deadline to December, 31, 2020.

 

The agency extended the deadline to sustain the development of the Nigerian maritime industry and enhance the gains of the Cabotage laws and Local Content Act.

 

 

Already, NIMASA, acting in compliance with the IMO regulation, has stopped registration of single hall vessels and affirmed that no single hall vessel would be permitted to sail on Nigeria waters.

 

It explained that the decision to extend the deadline was taken in line with the provisions of IMO, which allows member states who do not have the capacity to replace their existing single hull tanker fleet to extend the phase-out date of certain categories of tankers in their countries, provided the vessels do not engage in international trade.

 

According the Head of NIMASA Public Relations, Isichei Osamgbi, “our decision to extend the final phase-out date for all single hull tankers registered under the Nigerian flag administration to December 31, 2020 was to give more time for fleet replacement by Nigerian ship owners and also develop greater capacity to handle scrapping of vessels in the country.”

 

 

He explained that all tankers that would benefit from the extension must possess valid classification and statutory certificates, including a valid Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) certificate issued by NIMASA.

 

Pending issues

 

Despite these, it was learnt that to convert a single hall ship to a double hall would attract high cost among other challenges as the ban has led to increased demand for new ships and made ship values to attract higher rates. Presently, more than 80 per cent of ship owners in the country have gone out business because of lack of jobs and debts. In addition, it was revealed that while some of them could no longer pay wages of their crew, other have auctioned their vessels to pay bank’s debts.

 

According to NIMASA, more than 80 per cent of all Nigerian tankers are currently single hull.

 

Besides, some of the vessels were above 35 years old.

 

Already, NIMASA had stopped renewal certificates since 2015 for vessels that are more than 35 years.

 

Also, contrary to the existing five-year tenure for renewal of certificates, registration of new single hull tankers had ceased since 2017.

 

President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, expressed displeasure over the challenges facing indigenous ship owners and the turn of event in the industry in the last two years. He noted that indigenous tonnage had gone down, while seafarers were going out of job

 

According to him, most ship owners were unable to meet their obligations to the financing banks, leading to loss of jobs and failed businesses.

 

The president said that what was needed to grow the Nigerian shipping industry and the economy was government support on Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF), which would enable them to lift Nigeria crude and ultimately boost indigenous capacity.

 

Ogbeifun noted that foreign vessels banned in Europe, which are not supposed to operate on the nation’s waters, were in fact leading and dictating in the distribution of imported petroleum products in the country’s waters.

 

Last line

 

Despite the challenges, there is need by the government and ship owners to comply with the international shipping standard.

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Business

NPA, UNILAG to collaborate on capacity building

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Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and University of Lagos have resolved to collaborate on capacity building for its workforce.

 

To this end, the authority in a statement, said that adequate provision would be made in the 2018 budget to meet some of the urgent requirements and needs of the university under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.

 

The Managing Director of the authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, gave the assurance when a delegation from the university led by its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, paid her a courtesy call at the authority’s head office in Lagos.

 

She directed the university authorities to forward all the necessary details of their projects for analysis and consideration.

 

The authority’s Assistant General Manager, Corporate & Strategic Communications, Isah Suwaid, in a statement, said that Usman had expressed willingness to assist within budgetary limitation of the authority.

 

Ogundipe had earlier appealed to the management of NPA to intervene in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of some dilapidated structures at the college of medicine.

 

He told the managing director that NPA should take advantage of the maritime programmes presently available in the university.

 

The vice-chancellor suggested that NPA could consider sponsoring a professional chair in the university.

 

He recommended that the authority could consider sponsoring customised course to be specially designed for its staff as done to other maritime agencies in the country, under the institute for maritime studies.

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Business

Maritime Academy Threatened by unskilled manpower

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Thirty-nine-years-old Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) is facing inadequate manpower and infrastructure to compete with its counterparts in The Philippines, India, Egypt, England and thevUnited States. BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports

 

For close to four decades, the decision by some cadets at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) to proceed to the second phase of their mandatory training on board ships after due academic certification has been a tall order.

 

The academy was established in 1979 to train shipboard officers, nautical engineers, marine engineers, ratings and shorebased management personnel to serve the maritime community locally and internationally. Also in 1988, the academy’s mandate was expanded to train all categories of workers in the country’s maritime industry.

 

By the end of 2008, the institution had trained about 4,300 merchant navy officers and more than 65,000 other workers in marine engineering, nautical science, maritime transport and business studies, ship building, port operations, marine insurance, maritime law, maritime security, and other specialised maritime courses.

 

However, challenges ranging from poor staffing, acute shortage of skilled manpower, underfunding conflicts, poor management, inadequate infrastructure, training equipment, training vessel, Radar Arpa Simulators (RAS) and access to sea time have put the academy on a wrong track among its global competitors.

 

The Rector of the academy, Commodore Emma Effedua, said recently in Oron that International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was gradually losing hope in Nigeria producing quality seafarers.

 

Issues

 

It was learnt that the institution still depends on some phased out equipment acquired 25 years ago at its foundry shops to train students. Moreover, while it is one lecturer to 200 students, it was revealed that eight cadets were being assigned to one machine instead of three. Furthermore, the academy has no capacity to award a Class 1 Certificate of Competency (CoC) to its graduates because of inadequate facilities.

 

Staffing

 

Worried by the number of management staff on acting positions, the academy’s Board Chairman, Mr. Ademola Seriki, also complained last month during his inaugural inspection of the school that there were too many officers, who were handicapped in discharging their duties effectively.

 

The chairman vowed to put an end to such practice in the school. Also, during an oversight function in March, 2018, the Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Mr Mohammed Umar-Bago, advised the management to sack 83 staff of the school, who were engaged without due process.

 

The chairman said that the academy was a special school that needs professionals to train cadets, not just employing people that were not relevant to the mandate of the academy. He said: “Sack them if their employment did not go through due process; that is how touts are employed.” Umar-Bago explained that the academy was over bloated with 700 staff.

 

Project

 

Also, Seriki who expressed disappointment with the level of abandoned projects and obsolete infrastructure in the academy, stressed the need to replace the school’s outdated equipment with modern ones. He said: “I am disappointed over abandoned projects and the vast areas that have not been developed. We have a lot to do. Look at this 30 acres expanse of land, nothing has been done here. “So we have a lot of work to do. We are so excited about it, but still we are challenged. The issue of infrastructure is to be faced. “We cannot take away nautical engineering and marine engineering from maritime studies.

 

Funding

 

The President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, had before now traced one of the problems of the academy to poor funding.

 

He lamented that the demise of the Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL) had contributed to the problem of the school.

 

According to him, the disappearance of fleet of vessels that provided sea- time training opportunities for cadets had led to a huge gap in the maritime human capacity development in Nigeria.

 

 

The president added that there was no articulated programme to ensure effective link between the institution and the existing fleet of vessels in the country’s maritime domain. He recalled that the cadets from the academy were automatically exposed to a 12-month mandatory sea-time onboard the various vessels operated by the NNSL and this gave birth to well seasoned professionals, who have been manning sensitive positions in the maritime industry.

 

Ogbeifun faulted Federal Government’s training of seafarers abroad, adding that training of seafarers and cadets was the responsibility of ship owners and shipping companies.

 

 

Way forward

 

Seriki proposed that the school should embark on free training of stakeholders who will in turn provide the needed equipment to the institution.

 

The chairman also called for expansion of the school’s laboratory to make the facility more conducive for the cadets as well as equipping of the e-library and the ICT resource centre. He stressed the need to arrest the deteriorating state in line with its mandate and core values. Seriki said that the academy should partner with all relevant stakeholders to enable it meet international standard. Also, Effedua stated that restructuring and repositioning the school was the only solution to move the school forward.

For instance, the rector proposed that some of the buildings in the school should be converted to hostels to accommodate students and those on short courses, noting that proceeds from the hostel could be used to execute other critical projects. The rector disclosed that management was already at the point of getting permission to effect the conversion.

 

Effedua said: “We need to put the necessary infrastructure in place; we must really work in synergy with our sister agencies like the Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), shipowners associations and others to facilitate the provision of facilities, technical services, capacity-building and engagement of qualified cadets from the academy. Seriki said that the academy must build a relationship that would result in acquiring assets, which will be of benefits to everyone.

 

Last line

 

Nigeria should focus on capacity building in the maritime industry rather than relying on foreign manpower.

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