PSTT Extends Radar, Insists On SOP in Vessel Boarding, Terminal Operations
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), may have put a lie to long held impression in some quarters that it is shy of beaming its searchlight on the activities of international ports stakeholders, as it landed the $1.5billion giant Lekki Deep Sea Port last week, with stern warning for all terminal operators to respect the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
National Cordinator of PSTT, Mr Moses Fadipe who led top members of the Task Team on a working visit to the Lekki Port last Wednesday stressed the need for compliance with the SOP especially as it concerns boarding and rummaging of vessels by operatives of relevant departments of government aimed at achieving security checks for the quick evacuation of cargoes from the port.
The PSTT is a creation of the Presidency domiciled under the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the nation’s port economic regulator and has responsibility for implementing the SOP contained in the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM); which is designed to achieve ports operational efficiency through zero tolerance for corruption and associated tendencies; including vessel boarding and terminal operations .
While speaking during the visit, Fadipe disclosed that strict boarding processes has saved vessels demurrage to the tune of N5.4billion, even as he further disclosed that its personnel recorded a total of 121 infractions vide vessel boarding, resulting payment of USD20,000 on daily basis per vessels due to delay. He however said that this has reduced to zero through its intervention.
He enjoined management of the LDSP to comply with the SOP as he urged them to accord PSTT officials the necessary cooperation including a work station to be able to carry out their assigned duty at the port.
He was specific in his demand that any vessel calling the LDSP is expected to be boarded within thirty minutes of berthing by relevant agencies, the Port Health officials being the first to board for inspection.
“There is need to control human elements and checkmate them, when the government agencies first board a vessel, if there is no infraction, we expect them to be done between thirty minutes, if not, they must disembark and let us know why, not for them to just remain onboard.
“When Port Health officials are going onboard, it is for thirty minutes, while that is going on, we expect Immigration and Customs to be ready to board jointly, this is why NPA is mandated to provide the Joint Boarding Bus which would be used to convey officials from a place you are going to dedicate for us as a muster point.
“At the muster point, whatever they might be having on them would be kept safely, only their identification or working tools would go onboard with them in a transparent jacket. There must be no souvenir, the way you go is how you come back.
“In tandem with ISPS Code, all agencies and officials must register their names as they are going onboard and the amount of time spent, the PSTT would be coming from time to time to check if they are in order. For the joint boarding exercise, only two customs officers and three immigration officers are allowed, and they have a maximum of thirty minutes. The idea is that the vessel operations must not be delayed.”
He however noted that “The NDLEA, NIMASA and others can board at their convenience and we don’t expect them to spend more than thirty minutes. There is going to be a feedback form, because there is a group called Maritime Anti-Corruption Network based on Copenhagen, we partner with them as PSTT and Nigerian Shippers Council, and all what I am telling you is practiced on all vessels all over the world, it is zero tolerance for corruption.
“There is a platform where we operate and these vessels communicate with us in real time, so whatever is going on at your port, they report back to us” he said.
He also clearly stated what is expected of terminal operators through the SOP, saying the PSTT is concerned about unfettered cargo turnaround time.
“By 8.am, no container would be positioned again. We expect the customs to coordinate this process with all agencies participating in joint examination of cargoes, it commence at 10am and stops by 4pm.
“We are concerned about evacuation of cargoes from the port, and how it would affect the cost of doing business. We have noticed the ongoing road construction and the wideness of the roads to accommodate trucks is a concern.”
This is even as he reiterated the demand by NPPM for all relevant government agencies to key into a single electric platform where vessels transmit manifest before getting to the port, without necessarily flooding the vessel for physical checks.
Responding, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLEL) –promoters of Lekki Deep Sea Port, Mr Daniel Odibe assured that the port will do everything to align with the rules of engagement, and listed structures and super structures dutifully put in place to ensure cost efficient service delivery.
He said, “We have the portal scanners which makes it faster to scan a container, you can drive through the scanner under 33-seconds. This is sufficient for the amount of cargoes we plan to handle within the next few years of our phase one. We hope that if every agency keys into that, it would create an efficient means of examination.”
On his part, the Manager/ HSE & Community Liaison Officer of Lekki Port, Adurayemi Ogundele said the port is exploring the option of evacuating cargoes by barges and in future by rail network; noting that the port’s design plan to operate as a transshipment hub for the sub region will be maintained .
“We have been discussing with a company that has ocean-going barges, we have had one or two operations and it was quite satisfactory. The roads constructions are currently ongoing while some have been completed.
“At the construction stage of this port, it is known that it would be a transshipment hub for the country. There was a minute three weeks ago on transshipment of cargoes, there has been some signified interests, everything is in progress, the first of these meetings was held at our office at Victoria Island.
“So, for trans-shipment, it is work in progress, and at the end of the day, we would achieve our aim.”