SEAPORTS SERVICES AND PORT DEVELOPMENTS IN NIGERIA
A port is a complex infrastructure and its interdependence with other economic activities is obvious. Its complexity arises primarily from the fact that it is regarded as a unit. Though operationally separate, Ports’ activities sometimes exist in such a way, that any disruption in one section of the system naturally reflects on the other. Human’s everyday needs which greatly influences Port activities and has been so for a long time, has proved to be insatiable. These everyday needs has led to the increasing demands for goods and commodities from one part of the world to the other, and is what geared the needs for the formation of English words such as “Import (bringing into one’s country, goods purchased in other countries),” and “ Export (the process of taking good’s from one’s country to other countries)”.
I truly believe that with more synergy with shipper’s as well as the Nigerian Shipper’s council, we will create a much better port environment across all Nigerian ports.
Import and Export of goods which could either be dry bulk or wet cargoes has proven to be a key factor in tandem to the creation of seaports in almost all countries over the globe, not forgetting inland ports and artificially constructed ports which, all of this has proven in a great way in the advancement of trade and commercial activities within the globe for the effectiveness of International trade. Seaport operation which is highly regarded as one of the most formidable part of shipping operations, because of its massive impacts on trade is shown to be an articulated way for the delivery of goods and services to cities and nations. As her formation creates, for anywhere in which it is sited, steady means of employments and advancement of other means of transportations, the primary function of a port is to receive Vessel and ensure fast. For a seaport to be operational and to be declared a safe environment it had to meet certain conditions/standards stipulated by the International Maritime Organization and other maritime conventions.
“No man is free if He is not a master of himself”. This best describes the Port services in a nation that is really opening a national cause for a higher participation of indigenous players in shipping/port services through cabotage law enactments and Custom/Exercise laws, to enable local participation in the embracing of better technological means in the advancement of ports operations, which over the years has yielded much success even in this period of ports concession in Nigeria. This is pivotal for our national development and industrialization. In no better way could the achievement of port operations in Nigeria be measured without listing challenges and factors which has created a reason for better solutions in attaining much better quality satisfaction in the delivery of better ports services among Nigerian ports.
One of the chronic challenges faced in port operations is congestion of port/access way. Seaports are of economic and strategic importance to the nations which hold them, because they can be used for everything from shipping out a nation’s consumer products to loading up troop ships for sail to war.
Features of a seaport includes facilities for handling and storing cargo such as warehouses and cranes, along with amenities which are designed to appeal to people coming into the port, such as hotels, restaurants and ship building with repair companies. These are typically located near port for the convenience of their clients; the strategic importance of a seaport can change over time. Over the years some ports have been lost due to erosion, or other issues which have caused the ports to vanish, or become unnavigable, while others over time have become less important, because they are no longer on major trade routes, or there has been a decline in cargo production within the country, which would make the port less profitable for shippers. It’s better to site a port around warm water, since the water in and around the port wouldn’t freeze in winter, allowing port usefulness all year round. Nigeria, unlike some countries, is blessed with good weather and waterway, always warm and easy to navigate, not forgetting to put the draught level into mind; since some waterways may not be navigable by oceangoing vessels.
Seaport service is a huge business investment set up with high profit oriented motives and target for easy reception and forwarding of finished and semi-finished goods in a country. This which formerly is created by the Government, but with low managerial handling of ports by government establishment in Nigeria, we are now faced with privatization of ports. A well-equipped port is an asset to the nation and sub region. It does not only attract more ships to call, but also helps to increase the tonnage of cargo handled in such ports, as a more equipped port becomes more competitive against less equipped ports within the shipping range. An increased in port’s throughput automatically means increase in revenue and a sense of profit. Profitability here may not be only discounting expenditure from actual financial gains in the port, but may include improvements and gains in the national economy.
A ship earns revenue while steaming and incurs expenditure when in port, this revenue allows for quicker return on capital, hence good prospects of replacement of old and ageing vessels. Quick turnaround of ship affects freight payable by shippers (importer/exporters) and the benefit of such effects accrues to consumers in the long run. The federal Ministry of finance studies has confirmed that over 70% of Nigeria’s inflation is port related, the main reason for port reforms was to have a more efficient port, easy cargo clearance, corruption-free port. As observed by Sekibo (2004) and Sarumi (2005) “Port concession and her reforms are twin elements that can stimulate industrial growth, promote employment and stem diversion of the country’s ships and cargoes to our neighboring ports; ports reforms is to achieve operational and management environment for all stakeholders in the maritime industry, it is expected to transform the system through making ports’ managerial and administrative system capable of improving ports’ efficiency”. A successful implementation of the port reforms, as observed by Chigbue (2006) “…would quadruple cargo handling productivity at the ports , reduce a port’s operating cost by S65-$80million yearly (about 20-25percent) and reduce port users between $70million and $ 100million annually”. With this, all Nigerians should continue to do more to support the port by appreciating the federal and state government in their sincere efforts of maintaining port access ways, as well as encouraging the government to contribute more on the ease of doing business in Nigeria, by doing more to assisting in total maintenance of all port access ways in Nigeria and reduce the custom duties of some items to enable prompt pre-arrival destination declarations and goods clearance. While it is necessary for ports’ operators to keep investing on port operational facilities, I truly believe that with more synergy with shipper’s as well as the Nigerian Shipper’s council, we will create a much better port environment across all Nigerian ports.
By Otutu Onyeka Francis (MNIS)