SEAPORT Terminals Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) has accused the Bonny Channel Company (BCC) of irregularities in channel and berthing management at the Eastern ports. This is even as the operators lamented huge revenue loss due to this unpredictable approach.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively on the sideline of a maritime stakeholders’ event held in Warri, Delta State, the Port Manager of the Ports and Terminal Operators Limited (PTOL), Mr Charles Ajah stated that port operators are losing prospective clients due to the irregular channel and berth management style of the BCC.
According to Mr Ajah, who spoke on behalf of STOAN, ”BCC that was contracted to do the regular sweeping of channels and berths, when they do that, they should give the actual figure of depth of the channels and berths, so that when we negotiate with our customers, we can be confident that whatever they (our customers) will get from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) will tally with what we are telling them.
“A situation, we will tell a customer that is coming in with a vessel of eight meters, that we have enough depth and space to accommodate his ship, and the customer goes to NPA and be told that eight meters cannot come into our terminal, that its only seven meters or 6.5 meters vessel that can come in, is unacceptable because the figures are not factual.
“We have stories where a 10-meter vessel came into ports terminals that BCC had said only 9.3 meters vessel can come in. All the berths are not of equal depth. Some berths are 6.5 meters, some are seven meters while some are eight meters. The berths undulate; they are not the same depth.
“For example, BCC will say that berth 1 is six meters, but you know that berth 1 takes a vessel of seven meters. So if a customer tells you he is coming with a vessel, that if well loaded, the draft will be seven meters, you normally will ask the customer to come, but the customer will tell you that NPA said berth 1 can only take 6.5 meters vessel, so he cannot come. Automatically, you have lost that job, even though that same berth 1 have accommodated seven meters vessel. It is what BCC tells the NPA, that the NPA in-turn passes to our customers. With this, we are losing jobs because figures the BCC is giving the NPA are not correct.
“We are appealing to the BCC to publish the actual figures of berths depth to the NPA, so that when we tell customer’s that this is what we have in our berths, it will be corroborated at the NPA. Shipping is international business; prospective customers get information of berth depth on the website of the port landlord, which is the NPA here.”
When asked if operators have complained to the NPA, the PTOL Port Manager explained that, “We have complained to the NPA, but nothing has been done. NPA publishes daily bulletin which comprises of information of vessels at berth, vessels at the fairway buoy, and vessels expected to come in. Eight meters vessels have come into berths that NPA published can only accommodate 7.5 meters vessel. We have stories, but we keep losing jobs because some vessels won’t even come once they receive information of berth depth at the NPA. Yet we know this figures at the NPA are not correct. This figures generated by the BCC to the NPA are not correct.”
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