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Shippers Council  knocks SIFAX  over poor service delivery.



—-as terminal operator raises alarm on looming congestion at the port.

Segun Oladipupo/ Biola Seun   |

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, has knocked the Port and Cargo Handling Services, operated by SIFAX Group for its below average performance in its service delivery to its customers.

Bello, who expressed disappointment at the performance of the concesionaire and its poor automation,  threatened to sanction the operator of Terminal C at the Tin can Island Port if they fail to improve their level of performance and automation.

“This port must be automated because we look at the port and we don’t find your terminal very appealing.

“Infact our analysis revealed that Ports and Cargo scored about 25%, while others have 75 % and 65% and i think it is just logical for your terminal to improve on your operations .

“There are issues we will like P&CHS to work on. This issues borders on efficiency and a whole lot of others. Government is trying as much as possible to fix the roads, which is about 75 percent completed. We know the roads are bad, but we will not take that as an excuse for Nigerians to be exploited.
“We know that P&CHS has outlets where containers are stemmed to, to avoid port congestion.
“However, we expect this to be done at zero cost to the shippers. We have heard instances where P&CHS bills shippers for stemming cargoes to bonded terminals. This is unacceptable. It is against the international contract of carriage and affreightment.
“Another issue we have with P&CHS is delays associated with transfer and loading of barges despite the fact that these barges belong to P&CHS.
” At times, delays span around 4 months before barges are loaded and transfered. We won’t accept this anymore. The port is a transit point, not a warehouse.
“In the area of automation, P&CHS has not been found to be appealing. Infact, the terminal was scored 25 percent when other terminals were scoring 60 percent and 75 percent. By first quarter of 2021, we need all the ports to be fully automated.” declared Bello, fuming with fury.
But the Managing Director of Port and Cargo, Mr John Jerkins, disagreed with the position of the Shippers’Council, insisting the terminal was doing all it could to deliver quality services to its customer.

But he lamented that their services are being hampered by poor access roads which have continued to hobble their operations.

Jerkins also  raised the alarm over the looming congestion at the Port.

According to him, more than 40 vessels are currently  trapped at the Lagos Anchorage  as a result of congestion in the port arising from traffic on the port access roads linking Tincan Island Port.

He disclosed this on Tuesday, in Lagos during a meeting with the management of Nigerian Shippers’ Council led by its Executive Secretary, Barr. Hassan Bello.

Jerkins, who was respondiing to accusation of inefficient operations from the Shippers’council boss, reiterated that the terminal records 8000 TEUs monthly despite the deplorable state of the road.

“I don’t know the number of vessels that are currently at the anchorage now but I know its well above 40 vessels right there at sea.

“At least for Ports and Cargo,  we have about six to seven of our vessels stranded at the Lagos anchorage due to the state of the roads,” Jerkins lamented.

Jerkins maintained that the 8,000 TEUs are ferried through barges monthly, adding that over a 100,000 TEUs can be recorded per annual.

He admitted that there were more containers to be moved outside the terminal but unable due to the congestion while lamenting that the terminal operator was handicapped to address the situation of the road.

“Everybody wants to take everything in by barge and everybody wants to take out their containers by barge as well , at the same time” he declared.

On the deplorable state of the road, he said, “So it takes  two hours to move out 20 containers out of the terminal through barging and we do six to eight barging operation a day.

” But doing 8,000 TEUs in a month is no joke. We want to do better, we can do better but the point that we are not performing, I refute,” he argued .

He called on the government to provide palliative along the second gate axis , where a 35- meter stretch portion needs urgent attention to allow easy flow of vehicles out of the port.

He also noted that the congestion is not peculiar to Ports and Cargo terminals alone ,arguing that the SIFAX  terminal share same gate with the likes of Five Star Logistics Terminal and PTML on exit of consignments.

He stressed that all terminal operators are frustrated due to the deplorable condition of the roads.

But Bello accused the concessionaire of poor service delivery for shippers and freight forwarders.

He lamented that the gridlock was a major issue to contend with at Tin Can Island Port but urged the concessionaire to up its operational efficiency and improve in the area of delay in the transfer of containers to the off dock facilities.

The Executive Secretary noted that the council will not hesitate to sanction the concessionaire over failure to improve on efficiency and service delivery.

According to him, business should be perceived as win win situation, pointing out that the ports are set for automation by 2021.

He also lamented that the barging operation has not made significant impact to reduce the gridlock along the port corridors

© 2020, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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