Determined to expand its operations, SIFAX Group, parent company of Ports & Cargo Handling Services Limited (PCHSL), a terminal operator at Tin-can Island Port, said it has acquired a new facility that would be used as an off-dock terminal.
Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, who disclosed this in Lagos last week, when Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) visited PCHSL, as part of her tour of all terminals in Lagos to assess the impact of the 14-days lockdown on port operations, said the facility would be used to decongest the main port terminal in Tin-can.
While thanking the NPA boss for visiting the port, Afolabi used the opportunity to solicit NPA’S assistance in conjunction with the Lagos Channel Management (LCM) in dredging the waters to allow for barges and even smaller ships to berth at the terminal, which location is yet to be disclosed.
Earlier, Adekunle Oyinloye, Group managing director of SIFAX Group, said operations at the terminal have been faced with daunting challenges since the lockdown begun.
According to him, the staff were being harassed and detained by security agencies despite presenting their identification cards and cover letter from the NPA, adding that the closure of banks had also limited cargo owners from paying for import duties in order to take delivery of their consignments.
“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,” he said.
John Jenkins, managing director, Ports & Cargo Handling Services Limited, called on the NPA to help in sensitising security agencies on the importance of port operations, and prevailing on them to allow more trucks from outside Lagos to access the ports.
He pointed out the need to also make public transportation available for port workers.
In her response, Hadiza Bala Usman, assured that the authority would work to resolve some of the challenges experienced by terminal operators like SIFAX Group due to the lockdown imposed on Lagos State alongside Ogun and FCT by Federal Government to contain the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.
Usman noted that the agency is presently collating the challenges of all terminal operators and would pass them to the appropriate agencies for proper actions.
She pointed out 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 would continue to support the operations of SIFAX Group and other port operators around the country. Any assistance required from the authority should be put into writing and forwarded to my office. This is because I read all letters addressed to me and I would make sure that proper action is taken on the requests,” she assured.