A maritime operator and former Managing Director (MD) of APM Terminal, Michael Hausen has said that the major thing to be done to control ports congestion in Nigeria is to build more ports.
The former APM terminal boss who was speaking in an interview with the press on issues relating to maritime operations said that at present, the port can not be able to take or contain all the activities of the economy even in 10 years from now, and as such, that more port development is needed.
He said “we have been very open about our readiness to also get engaged in new port development which include making investments. When the president visited last June we declared that we will be very eager to take the lead, but that is long term”.
Further more, Hausen of APM terminal, the concessionaire and operator that the Apapa port container terminal was concessioned to, stated that his company has invested over $100 million US dollars, and is still investing at moment both in equipment and in construction works.
According to him “We are currently spending more money than we are earning in our operation, for that reason we borrow from Nigerian banks, so we have a long gestation period before getting returns on our investment and my worry is that before the returns, we need to continue to increase output in the port and if we don’t get this great result, it doesn’t make sense for us to continue investment in equipment and other civil works”.
On whether they have a formal forum of getting the government attention to some of the lapses that are causing problems in the port, the former APM MD said that the formal channel that his campaign go through is the NPA, and that some times, they also engage with the shipper’s council, stakeholders, as well as the ministry of transport, but that the formal channel is NPA.
Hansen also explained that it is about three years APM took over operations at the terminal, and that the port is still a public port owned by the Nigerian people, pointing out that what was concessioned is cargo operations at the terminal and that it is basically loading and discharging operations.
He posited that all other part of importing container, customs clearing, trucking the container out to the owner, and the general clearing processes are still as they were, adding that the terminal operation which involves moving the containers around in the port is what has been concessioned, and that it is an important point that need to be considered when talking about port congestion.