Nigerian Ship Owner seeks better maintenance of port channels

President of Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association, Mr. Aminu Umar

The President of the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA) Mr. Aminu Umar, has called attention on the need for proper maintenance of the nation’s seaport channels.

Speaking on the challenges that ship owners face in their operations, Umar urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to address the issue of maintaining the port channels and ensuring safety around the channels.

He said: “We believe that maintaining the channels and making sure the channels are safe are part of the duties and responsibilities of the Nigerian Ports Authority. And ship owners pay for these things. We pay for every ship that comes in, we pay for channel management, and we pay for harbours, for towage and for pilotage as well.

“If they don’t put in place these things that we pay for, it means they are not delivering on their service. We believe the NPA should look into that, to ensure that the services we pay for are being delivered.”

Speaking at the ship finance conference held in Lagos recently, Umar told newsmen that besides the issue of ship financing, which Ship Owners hope would be addressed through the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), the challenge of poor port infrastructure required urgent attention.

Umar said: “As ship owners, we categorize infrastructure into three folds; one is for ship that comes Nigeria and is at sea, not coming in. Another is for when the ship is about coming into the port of Nigeria, which is, transiting through the channels. Then, we have the infrastructure when the ship is alongside at the terminal. So, you can see that the government controls the one at the outside and the one transiting through the channel.

“The terminals have been concessioned to private owners. But the main issue for a ship owner is not the gears to discharge cargo at the terminal, it is the infrastructure in the transit; the channels are not well dredged, no tug boats there to assist the vessel.”

Umar said that vessels had been encountering accidences on their way coming inside the ports because the channels lacked adequate maintenance.

He added that “In the event there is need for a vessel on an emergency basis off-shore anywhere in Nigeria, nothing is in place to help you.”

Maritime industry stakeholders had gathered on December 18, at the Nigeria Ship Finance Conference and Exhibition in Lagos to discuss and seek solutions to issues on ship and port infrastructure financing in Nigeria.