There are strong indications that the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) may have waded into the ongoing feud between the management of APM Terminals and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) over the demolition of some sections of the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC).
The move is to ensure that the dispute does not in any way impede on port operations.
CCECC, which is the firm that is handling the Federal Government Standard Gauge rail project, had last week commenced demolition of some sections of the Apapa ports to create room for the construction of the rail lines into the ports complex, a move which APM Terminal viewed as impeding on its operations.
The demolition which took place last week saw some freight forwarders protesting against the actions of CCECC, insisting that their goods which had been cleared got trapped inside the ports as a result of the action.
Head Corporate Communication of NPA, Engr. Adams Jatto, said efforts were on going to ensure a peaceful settlement of the feud.
Jatto explained that the management of NPA on the leadership of the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, swung into action swiftly to ensure that port operations do not suffer as a result of the ongoing standard gauge rail construction.
The Head of Corporate Communication said the matter was under control and that there was not cause for alarm.
“We are already talking with the Project Manager of the rail project contractor and also talking to the terminal operators to see how we can mitigate the effects of the rail construction on port operations.
“Don’t forget that the rail project is a necessary evil that the nation has to implement to ensure that the ports are well connected to efficient rail services. However, we are discussing with them so that they can look at their programme and see how we can have an unhindered port operation while the rail project construction is ongoing” he said.
Though peace talk is ongoing, our correspondent discovered that demolition work is still currently ongoing as at the time of filing in this report.
Operations at the Apapa container terminal, operated by APM Terminals, were last week paralysed when CCECC mobilised to site, blocked the truck exit gate and began demolition of structures inside the port terminal, thereby hampering Customs inspection, and affecting the release and exit of containers at Nigeria’s busiest seaport.
As the demolition continues, importers and clearing agents have been unable to conclude their transactions as at when due while loaded trucks have been unable to exit the port terminal. The situation has further compounded the Apapa gridlocks as trucks piled up on the port access road.
Speaking on the development, President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, said while the desire of the government to link the seaports to the rail network is commendable, the project should be implemented in a way that does not hamper port operation.
He said, “What we observed at the Apapa port today shows poor coordination of the rail project. The Chinese contractors handling the rail should have coordinated with the Nigerian Ports Authority and all the terminal operators at the port to ensure that while the construction is ongoing, port operations are not hampered.
There is a huge backlog of containers in the port as we speak. To now block the port at this time and make it impossible for containers to exit the port is counterproductive.
“This is also the peak season for importation. More goods are coming into the country and this disruption will mean that these goods will be stranded at the port.
“Consequently, importers will be made to bear the brunt of this action because their goods will be trapped inside the port and they will not be able to take them to the market in good time. Also, they will end up paying more as demurrage and storage charges. This is not good at all.