The Tin-Can Island port complex receives about 7,000 empty containers weekly from badges plying the nation’s waterway.
This was even as 40 per cent of consignments coming through the Tin-can Island port are now being evacuated out of the seaport by barges.
Investigations revealed that most of the private terminal operators are now more willing to exploit the water transport option in the movement of containers and have embraced the barge operations mode.
Though the barge operators who spoke to journalists declined to give exact figures, they, however, claimed that cargo traffic in and out of the port is now as much as 40 to 45 per cent, with the number expected to increase further.
It was also gathered that as a result of the improved operation at the port, some vessels destined for Apapa port are now being drafted to Tin-can to be accommodated.
Consequently, the vessel waiting time at the port has improved from about two weeks sometime last year to about 48 hours.
Speaking on the development, outgoing Port Manager of Tin-can Island Port, Abubakar Umar, said that though he could not give the exact volume of cargo moved by barges from the port, a barge could transport around 12 units of 40-footer containers which take about 12 trucks out of the roads.
Umar noted that the condition of the port access road and the resultant traffic situation makes it difficult to effectively control the traffic. He, however, stressed that the port management has recorded a lot of improvements in the last year.
He said: “If you know the volume of cargo moved by barges, you will know that it has helped a lot. I must tell you that the use of barges is another part of the logistics chain. In some countries they use barges because the inland waterways are functional; it helps in reducing the volume of trucks on the roads.
“Before now, I have been calling on some of these companies to venture into it but they were not willing. What we are battling now is the control. It has helped in regulating their operations.
“You should know that the port does not receive consignments, it is the terminals. One terminal told me sometime ago that they move about 7,000 empties. Just do a little assessment, a barge that moves about 12 containers, how many trucks will be taken away from the road if it is 40-footer? That is 12 trucks from the road.
“The waiting time of vessels has improved because vessels do not wait outside too many days to come in. In fact we have so many vessels that were diverted from Apapa to come and berth here. We are on top of it in collaboration with the terminal operators, ensuring that they are on top of the function to port users. If you know the volume of trucks per week that access this port, it is an average of 7,000 empties coming into the port.
“With COVID-19, there are some vessels, based on the ports they are coming in from Europe; they have to spend the mandatory 14 days along the route before arriving Nigeria. We were recording an average of one to two days waiting time for vessels to enter our port and waiting time at berth came to four days because even some terminals thought that the port management cannot talk to them.
“I wrote them a strong worded letter based on the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) set for them as per the agreement and they immediately woke up and changed their mode of operation. Some times in a week we have between 14 to 19 ships at just the main port, I am not talking about the jetties.”
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