Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority, has pledged the agency’s support towards resolving some of the challenges being experienced by SIFAX Group, due to the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
She made this pledge when she visited the terminal of Ports & Cargo Handling Services Limited, the flagship company of SIFAX Group during a tour of all terminals in Lagos to assess the impact of the lockdown on port operations.
While welcoming her, Adekunle Oyinloye, Group Managing Director, SIFAX Group, noted that the operations at the terminal has been faced with daunting challenges since the lockdown.
He said: “We have encountered a lot of challenges including the harassment and detention of our staff by security agencies despite presenting their identity cards and the cover letter from NPA and bank closure at the ports, among others. We will need your assistance to address these obstacles to our operations.
“Also, in order to avoid congestion at the ports, we have stemmed some of our containers to our off dock facilities.”
In his own contribution, John Jenkins, managing director, Ports & Cargo Handling Services Limited, noted that the agency should first sensitize security agencies on port operations, prevail on them to allow more trucks from outside Lagos access the ports and make public transport available for port workers.
In her response, Usman noted that the agency is collating the challenges of all terminal operators and will pass them to the appropriate agencies for proper actions. She hinted that the government was committed to having smooth operations at the port during this period in other to keep the economy running.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to support the operations of SIFAX Group and other port operators around the country. Any assistance required from the agency should be put into writing and forwarded to my office, this is because I read all letters addressed to me and I will make sure that proper action is taken on the requests”, she said.
In his final response, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, thanked the MD for taking out time to visit the ports. He used the opportunity of the visit to intimate her of SIFAX Group’s plan to expand its operations especially with the acquisition of new facility that will serve as an off dock that would further help in decongesting the ports
He said: “I want to inform you that we have acquired a new property that will be used as an off dock and we will require the assistance of the NPA in conjunction with the Lagos Channel Management in dredging the waters to allow for barges and even smaller ships to berth at this terminal.”
The NPA MD was accompanied on the trip by the agency’s newly-appointed Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Mr. Onari Brown as well as the Tin Can Island Port Manager, Alhaji Alli Umar.