FG score Port & Cargo Handling Services low on port automation, bemoan slow processes

The Federal Government through the port economic regulator, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on Tuesday scored the Port & Cargo Handling Services (P&CHS) limited very low on port automation processes, lamenting that at times, it takes a cargo about four months to exit the terminal via barges.

Speaking on Tuesday when the management of the NSC paid a courtesy visit to the P&CHS, Executive Secretary of the NSC, Hassan Bello said P&CHS scored 25 percent out of a possible hundred in the area of port automation.

According to Hassan Bello, “there are issues we will like P&CHS to work on. These issues bother on efficiency and a host 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 the transfer and loading of barges despite the fact that these barges belong to P&CHS. At times, delays span around four months before barges are loaded and transferred. 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. In fact, the terminal was scored 25 percent when other terminals were scoring 60 percent and 75 percent. By the first quarter of 2021, we need all the ports to be fully automated.”

Responding to the complaints of the Executive Secretary of the NSC, the Managing Director of P&CHS, Mr. John Jenkins blamed the deplorable state of the ports access roads to the slow process of cargo evacuation at the terminal.

In his words, “the problems at the ports is the road. If the ports access roads problem is solved, all the problems inside the ports will be solved. There is no transfer of containers by road anymore because of the state of the roads.

“For barges, it’s not true that we are not doing enough in that regard. We do 8000teu’s of containers every month via barges. So, I don’t know what people mean when they say we are not doing enough through barges. Yes, we can do more, but not that we are not doing enough. I don’t think we are under-performing, but I agree we can do better.

“In the area of automation, we are looking into this and very soon, we will be bringing in IT experts to help look into this.”

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