Alhaji Mohammed Bulangu, acting Managing Director, Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, has identified areas that the government needs to address in order for the country to take advantage of the on-going greenfield seaport development.
Bulangu identified these solutions while delivering a lecture titled: “Greenfield Development: Imperative for Port Development in Africa” at the African Day of Seas and Oceans hosted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Lagos recently.
According to him, there is an urgent need to find sustainable solutions to various impediments bedevilling the laudable projects. These challenges include unstable government policies, lack of safety and security of funds invested by promoters, comfort of investors not guaranteed and non-provision of adequate measures to ensure continuity, lack of infrastructure, efficient transport system, among others.
He said: “Looking at the port development projects Nigeria is embarking upon now- greenfield ports at Lekki, the proposed port at Badagry and also the Olokola port on the borders of Ogun and Ondo states, one important missing link that can be observed is accessibility. On the completion of these ports, if some key and fundamental challenges, of which accessibility is the chief, are not addressed, serious environmental and economic issues will arise especially with the Lekki port”.
Bulangu further noted that all these challenges are surmountable if the government can guarantee safety and security of lives and investments put into the development of such greenfield projects, adding that there is an urgent need to deploy adequate security within the country’s territorial waters to check the activities of pirates and sea robbers.
Other areas that the Ports & Cargo boss suggested the government should attend to include provision of modern infrastructure, integrated transportation system which includes good road network, efficient rail system and revitalisation of inland waterways for the movement of persons and goods, attractive incentives for investors, including friendly tax policies and streamlining of operational procedures for smooth service delivery.
With the continued increase in global sea-borne trade and vessel sizes deployed to many routes for economies of scale operation, the need for new ports development with deep draft and large stacking areas for transhipment and transit cargo are becoming imperative.
New trends in maritime trade have also dictated that new port development takes into considerations a shift from its traditional roles as only destination of imports for the country and for its exports, but as hubs for connection and transhipment to other ports. Greenfield port development within supply chain now comes with activities such as cargo/warehousing, sorting, packaging, ship repairs, fuelling, discharge and many more.