The recent MARAN at 34 anniversary and awards which was graced by the Minister for Transportation, Mr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo provided an opportunity for Ships and Ports Publisher, Dr Bolaji Akinola to launch a salvo but actually designed to address the lingering argument that the 8,000 workers of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA ) laid off during the 2006 ports concessioning were paid nothing till date.
The theme for the MARAN event was “16 Years of Port Concession: The Pains and The Gains”.
Akinola also spokesperson for Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) said the action was unconscionable and requested that the Minister who has taken few right steps since he assumed office should do something about it.
“It is never too late to do what is right,” he said emphatically.
But setting the records straight, the Minister said that except for a few of the workers that took the matter to court, all the others have been paid their severance packages.
He said it was important to correct the wrong impression to erase every rumour sorrounding the matter that may have been put in the public domain.
The Minister said he had followed the matter with keen interest and was willing to right all the wrongs associated with the sack.
Meanwhile the immediate past Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council Barr. Hassan Bello who presented the lead paper among other things pooh poohed the idea of carrying out the concessioning of the ports without provision of rail and road infrastructure to meet the expected increase in cargo throughput.
While the purpose of ports concessioning which was to enhance efficiency, reduce corruption and turnaround time has been achieved, he noted that the required logistics to evacuate the cargoes has not been provided, thereby creating the long queue of trucks at Apapa and Tin-can Island ports.
Bello said that the access roads to Apapa should have been expanded even before the concession agreement was signed.
On the brighter side, he said some terminal operators have completely digitalized their operations, however he noted that most freight forwarders are yet to catch up with modern operations.
According to him, “Freight forwarders should be able to stay in the comfort of their homes to process documentation instead of following up bill of laden amongst other processes manually.
Also the arrival and departure of vessels can be monitored at home instead of visiting the port premises to a ascertain shipping position.
Chairman of the occasion and former director general of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Ade Dosumu said port concessioning has undoubtedly increased the number of cargoes moving in and out of the country.
He maintained that the days when vessels waited on the high sea due to lack of anchorage spaces to berth are gone forever.
Dosumu who was highly commended for his accommodating tenure as DG noted that truck drivers should be taught on how not to park indiscriminately along the port access roads but at holding bays.
Picture: Transport Minister, Muazu Jaji Sambo