Mohammed Bello-Koko, Acting MD, NPA.
Story by Dili Utomi
The acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority Mohammed Bello-Koko has reiterated the readiness of the Authority to reduce the transit time of vehicles moving in and out of the Lagos Ports especially through the seemingly problematic Tin Can area and also to provide the much needed security. The Acting MD who made the statement while visiting the Tin Can Port complex and also the Sunrise Bus Stop area of the Apapa – Mile 2 highway which had become a failed passage, noted that the poor road situation within this corridor (the major artery in and out of the Tin Can Island Port) remains a huge concern to the Authority.
According to the NPA MD, the improved traffic situation along the Tin Can Port approach from what it used to be some months back is one of the positives from the synergy between the NPA and the Lagos State Government (LASG), which deployed the necessary security and equipment needed to check indiscriminate parking on the road as well as an end to the menace of touts and other criminals.
He also observed that some of the internal roads within the Tin Can Port Complex are in a state of disrepair, but assured that the Authority, in concert with other relevant agencies of Government and the National Assembly, would mobilise resources as soon as possible to fix such roads.
Describing the Tin Can Port Complex as too porous, the NPA MD noted that the wire gauze perimeter fence installed as a means of preventing unauthorized access in line with the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code recommendation, have been pulled down, thus much stronger wall of protection must be put in place to keep people who do not have any business having access to the complex.
The Acting MD with his entourage during the visit.
The MD further said that the visit has availed the management an opportunity to evaluate where the access control gate should be mounted out of the three entry gates into the complex, adding that the Authority, working with the relevant authorities would move to fast track the necessary public procurement processes.
Speaking on the objective of his visit, the NPA Boss said: “We are here because you recall that we met recenty with the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the essence of the visit was to strengthen our partnership with the State Government towards reducing the heavy vehicular congestion, especially in Apapa. We also talked about the poor state of the road along the Tin Can Island Port corridor.
The MD stated that they would like to consolidate on their achievements and also consistently ensure that trucks that do business at the ports, picking and dropping of containers, do so without encumbrances.
The MD stated that there had been reports of pilfering, stealing and vandalisation of containers, which must not be allowed to continue, insisting that the management is poised to put an end to such criminal acts by moving to upgrade the Authority’s security architecture.
On the internal roads within the Tin Can Island Port, “some of the roads within the Port have failed and it is the responsibility of NPA to fix them. Therefore, we came to look at all these so that we work with the relevant government agencies. We will liaise with the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the National Assembly to mobilize the required resources. We will ensure that this is treated as an emergency and as quickly as the procurement process would allow us”, he said.
Bello-Koko decried a situation whereby it takes several hours for a truck to access the Ports because of the failed portions of the internal Port roads, citing several instances where container laden trucks fell while trying to manoeuvre within the Port, a development that is clearly unacceptable, he said.
On the deployment of the electronic call up system, code named “Eto”, he noted that the system is yet to be effective in the Tin Can Port corridor, due to the poor state of the access road, as well as some failed roads within the Port, which reinforces the urgent need to fix these infrastructure as soon as possible.
He however noted that though he is not completely satisfied with the deployment of the “Eto” platform, he disclosed that the platform manager has been given up to the end of June to live up to his game in terms of deploying the necessary assets and human resources, to complement the reconstruction of the roads by government.
On Port automation, he stated that the Authority had directed all the terminal operators and shipping companies to embrace smart solutions to enhance service delivery, “while many of them are making the right investments, the level of compliance is not where it should be, he said.
He posits that there is the need for a Port Community System where every stakeholder including the NPA could interface with one another, adding that although it takes significant resources and time to automate, “it is my hope that all segments of the industry would automate their systems to make Port operations timely and less cumbersome”, the MD admonished.
On corruption and extortion on the Port access roads, he acknowledged that some of the deployed security operatives from the Nigerian Police, LASTMA, Nigerian Armed Forces and NPA Security personnel have been found culpable, however strong disciplinary measures in line with public service rules are being taken against these “bag eggs”, he stressed.
Meanwhile, the acting Managing Director Mohammed Bello-koko has restated that the Authority will continue to empower and provide opportunities for women in the maritime industry, while taking deliberate steps to nurture young women maritime professionals.
Bello-Koko reassured the industry on Thursday at a reception in honour of the country’s first female Azuimuth Stern Drive (ASD) Tugboat Captain, Canus Ebinipre Robinson, organised by LTT Coastal and Marine Services, the company managing the Authority’s marine crafts.
He said that “The Nigerian Ports Authority as an equal opportunity organisation is always delighted to be associated with exceptional feats especially when accomplished by our female professionals, in our relentless drive to improve operational efficiency we recently invested heavily on the acquisition of world class tugs to boost towage and mooring operations at the Port, so the news of increasing availability of local talent and expertise to seamlessly maneuver sophisticated high performance vessels such as the ASD is heart gladdening for us”.
The Acting MD commended the Management of LTT Coastal & Marine Services Limited for the foresight that birthed such an unprecedented achievement. He further stated that “This feat is more heartwarming for us at the NPA because it shows that stakeholders are keying into our efforts at promoting the participation of women in the maritime ecosystem. If we must optimize the ever growing potentials and dynamism of the global Port system, we must create an atmosphere conducive for increased participation of women in port operations”, he remarked.
He described the emergence of the first female Tug boat Captain in West Africa from Nigeria as an uncommon feat that should challenge our young ladies to aspire to achieve greater heights, not because of their gender but because of their capacity.
The Authority according to the NPA Boss places high premium on gender, in her overall talent development agenda. In his words: “for instance, of the 23 General Managers at the NPA, six are women. The female General Managers are in charge of Divisions like Medical, Human Resources, ICT, Monitoring & Regulatory Services, Public Private Partnership and SERVICOM. There are also six Port Managers in charge of Port locations across the country and two of them are women. A number of our strategic departments such as Legal, Training, Superannuation, Administration and Environment amongst others, are led by women.
All these actions are very much in sync with the Federal Governments’ resolve to encourage women’s participation in all spheres of the economy and the Authority’s willingness to lead by example in mobilizing all stakeholders to deepen the participation and promote women excellence across the entire maritime value chain”, Bello-Koko said.
LTT Coastal & Marine Services is a fleet management company contracted to manage vessels owned by the Nigerian Ports Authority such as tugs, pilot cutters, mooring launches and speed boats, among others.
Capt. Ebinipre Canus Robinson, West Africa’s first female ASD Tug Boat Captain is from Bayelsa State in Nigeria. She is a product of the National Seafarers Development Programme, promoted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
She joined LTT as a Deck Cadet for her seamanship practical training/experience from 8th August 2017 to 27th December 2019. In 2020, she went to the Philippines for her Certificate of Competency Examination – 2nd March 2020 and returned to the country after successfully passing her COC examination – 27th December 2020.
LTT absorbed her to undergo sea practical training as an officer after obtaining Officer-in-charge-of-a Navigational watch (II/I) Unlimited Certificate. She was certified competent in ASD tug handling on 24th May 2021.
An impressive contingent of maritime female professionals attended the historic event.
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