By Codratus Godson and Gladys Nweke
PTOL, one of the two terminal operators running the Port Harcourt port, says it is anticipating more cargo heading to Port Harcourt and is expanding its operational base to accommodate this.
The General Manager, Darrick Moss, who stood in for the Managing Director, Efoita Ephraim, said PTOL is anticipating more cargo activities at the Port Harcourt port. He said management was already seeking out space for expansion.
Port Harcourt port was divided into two terminals in 2006 and each awarded to a terminal operator. Thereafter, the port went down in volume of operations as eastern ports dwindled and Lagos boomed. Now, eastern ports are bouncing back and terminal operators in the Port Harcourt port said they are preparing for expansion.
The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) recently reduced fees to vessels calling at eastern ports by 10 per cent. Many importers told BusinessDay in Port Harcourt they now rerouted their cargo to Port Harcourt to enjoy the benefits. Also, attacks on vessels calling the Port Harcourt port are said to have drastically reduced.
A source said it may be because most vessels come with hired security teams ready to do battle with pirates and other sea vandals.
As a result, more vessels are said to be headed to eastern ports, especially, Port Harcourt port. The operator of ‘Terminal A’, Port & Terminal Operators (Nigeria) Limited (PTOL), told Energy an Maritime Reporters Corps (EMR) that paid a visit on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, that they have continued to acquire special equipment needed to handle different cargo types.
PTOL officials have however not attributed the boom to the 10 per cent reduction or that the minister of transportation in recent past hails from Rivers State. The GM only said; “We expect expansion in Port Harcourt port. Port Harcourt port is the only multi-purpose port terminal in nearby areas. We have the lowest tariff around the region, too. “
Continuing, he said: “We are prepared to work with the EMR to disseminate information on Port Harcourt port and PTOL’s efforts in the port.’
Giving a background, Moss said PTOL was established in 2006 after the concessioning of ports in Nigeria and handing over of two cargo handling operations by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA). Bua has Terminal B.
He said: ‘It is a multipurpose terminal meaning that all types of cargo can berth here: bulk cargo, break bulk cargo and cargo on wheels. Note that container is no cargo type, but means of conveying it.
Experts explained that general cargo includes frozen fish, bagged rice, bagged cement, project cargo, coated steel pipes, etc. Dry cargo includes bulk wheat, palm kernel shell, bulk cement etc; while liquid cargo includes AGO, DPK, PMS, tallow, crude palm oil, base oil etc.
Moss pointed out that the port has a berth of 7.5 to 8.5, and that the terminal yard can contain 7000 boxes. “PTOL can handle any type of cargo.”
Earlier, the chairman of the EMR group, Martins Giadom of Radio Rivers, said the group was glad to be well received here. “We know that PTOL acquired one of the best equipment in the industry. Training, seminars, forum series are our needs. We need support to make them a success. It will help us to sensitise the industry”.
He further explained how the EMR would want its members to specialize and deepen their knowledge of the industry because an ignorant press corps is not of any benefit to anybody. “We intend to build up capacity and knowledge and thus we rely on industry leaders to help out in this regard.’
He commended PTOL for acquiring specialized equipment to make work easier in the Port Harcourt port. He said the essence of the concession was to improve port logistics efficiency in terms of berthing of vessels, cargo discharge, storage and delivery. “This underscores the need for the terminal operator to invest in equipment and terminal capital development.”