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How APM Terminals is sustaining investments, operations in Nigeria amid Coronavirus crisis

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the last lap of 2019 has created global health crisis that is forcing nations to shut down non-essential businesses through movement restrictions as part of efforts at containing and curtailing the spread of the deadly virus.

Sadly, the coronavirus-induced lockdown has resulted to serious economic shocks for nations as famous financial capitals of the world such as London and New York have been forced to go on holiday.

Consequently, businesses are now losing revenue due to shutdown of factories and disrupted supply chain. US oil prices, for instance, turned negative in mid-April 2020 for the first time in record before rebounding to $1 per barrel as stockpile overwhelmed storage facilities.

Presently, firms are beginning to cut down jobs amid warnings by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the pandemic would instigate an economic downturn not experienced since the great depression of 1929.

In what is clearly a pleasant surprise, when businesses are cutting down on spending to deal with the economic shock, firms such as APM Terminals Apapa has continued to sustain its operations in the nation’s seaport in line with presidential directives. It has also joined private sector efforts at fighting the COVID-19 by contributing over N400 million in cash, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), media awareness campaign among others.

Located in the nation’s premier seaport in the heart of Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, APM Terminals took over operation of the Apapa container terminal in 2006 under the Federal Government’s port reform programme.

It has also continued to deliver on its concession agreement of providing the needed port infrastructure and cargo handling equipment to enhance ease of doing business at port amid lockdown.

 

Business continuity

APM Terminals, despite the lockdown, continues to maintain operations in Lagos Port Complex in line with the Federal Government’s directive that seaports in Lagos (Apapa and Tin-Can Island) must remain operational as part of essential service sectors.

In doing this, the terminal operator adopted stringent measures in line with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure the supply chain remains uninterrupted, and availability of essential supplies.

“As an essential service provider, our terminal operations are running normally. Therefore, we urge importers to continue to take delivery of their containers to enable the discharge of incoming cargo and avoid congestion,” said, Mohammed Ahmed, managing director of APM Terminals Nigeria.

Daniel Odibe, general manager, external relations, said that as a responsible corporate citizen of Nigeria, APM Terminals Apapa has complied with the directive of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to maintain continuity in port operation.

He added that the terminal had been in full operation since the lockdown in Lagos.

 

Acquisition of new cranes

On Thursday,  April 23, 2020 the managing director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, commissioned two new multi-million dollars state-of-the-art Mobile Harbor Cranes (MHCs) acquired by APM Terminals to boost service delivery at the port.

The new cranes were acquired as part of the firm’s additional investment of USD80 million (N33.6 billion) for the year 2020-2021, bringing its total investment in Apapa since 2006 to USD438 million (about N184 billion).

David Skov, head of terminals, Africa and Middle East region of APM Terminals, said before now, the company had invested USD358 million (N150.36 billion) in port infrastructure development, information technology upgrades and modern cargo handling equipment to improve both quayside and landside operations.

“The additional investment we are making is to handle the increased trade volumes into Nigeria. Trade in Nigeria is growing due to the many favorable policies of the federal government including but not limited to the policy on ease of doing business; stabilisation of foreign exchange; closure of the land borders which has increased the use of seaports; and diversification of the economy,” he said.

The additional investment, according to Skov, would create capacity to handle trade growth and improve service delivery across the logistic chain in Nigeria.

He said with the acquisition of these new cranes, the terminal now operates with a total of 10 Mobile Harbour Cranes; 23 Rubber-Tyred Gantry Cranes; six Empty Handlers; 48 Specialized Truck Terminals, six Reach Stackers and 11 Forklifts.

The huge investment has resulted in significant improvements in productivity, reduction in vessel waiting time and doubling of container volumes at the port.

While commending the management of APM Terminals, Bala Usman said ports were concessioned by the Federal Government to private operators to improve service efficiency and free government resources for other developmental purposes.

According to her, NPA would continue to engage with private terminal operators to rise up to the challenge of the increased cargo traffic.

“NPA’s engagement with terminal operators is yielding tangible results as evidenced by the commissioning of the two new Mobile Harbor Cranes. As ports become more efficient, efforts must be made to enhance cargo delivery process and free the ports of longstanding cargoes,” she said.

Usman, however, expressed worry over the growing volume of overtime containers in the port, calling on cargo owners and their agents to utilise the period of the lockdown to take delivery of their consignments.

Supports fight against Coronavirus

To support Federal Government in the fight against the pandemic, APM Terminals Nigeria joined other private sector operators to make series of donations towards the fight.

First, it earmarked N100 million in which, N75 million was contributed to the United Nations in Nigeria basket fund while the remaining N25 million was committed on community awareness through radio, social media as well as fliers to sensitise Apapa community on how to curb the spread of the pandemic.

With this contribution, the leading terminal operator was afforded the opportunity to play its part in strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the deadly virus. It also enhanced the UN support to the country’s preparedness and provision of healthcare support to those with the virus.

It was said that the funds would go into acquisition of ventilators and other lifesaving hospital apparatus needed to aid the healthcare response to the pandemic.

On the donation, Edward Kallon, resident and humanitarian coordinator of UN in Nigeria, said the UN in Nigeria would support and complement government’s efforts in setting up a national response fund that would serve as a single national platform and financing framework, coordinating partnerships and mobilising resources for the fight.

In coordination with the government, the UN mobilises funds to ensure that essential health equipment needed for testing and medical care, including equipping of temporary hospitals/quarantine centers and designated emergency centers, are provided.

BusinessDay check shows that two weeks after donating N75 million into the UN in Nigeria Basket Fund, APM Terminals Apapa donated additional N150 million into the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Relief Fund Account created by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

It also donated 1,000 units of nose masks; 500 disposable protective coveralls; 400 litres of hand sanitizers; protective goggles and hand gloves to the Lagos Port Complex of the NPA.

The fight against COVID-19 is one battle everybody must join hands, and with the strong leadership being provided by the Federal Government, Nigeria will overcome this difficult time, said Martin Jacob, managing director of APM Terminals Apapa.

According to him, the items donated were aimed at preventing the spread of the virus at the port.

“The only option available to us this time is prevention. The responsibility lies on all of us to protect ourselves and render all possible assistance within available resources. The basic precautionary measures such as not touching our eyes, nose, or mouth; regular washing of hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer; maintaining social distance and avoiding large gatherings must be respected by all including at the port where we provide essential services,” Jacob said.

While receiving the PPEs, Funmilayo Olotu, Port Manager of Lagos Port Complex Apapa, expressed appreciation to APM Terminals Apapa for the donation.

Also, the firm went further to pay for a chartered flight to deliver vital health supplies acquired by UN to support the fight against Coronavirus in Nigeria.

The chartered flight, which delivered the essential items to Nigeria on Thursday April 16, 2020, landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos with various health items made up of 10,000 test kits, 15 oxygen concentrators, and various PPEs, vaccines, IEHK/PEP kits, and other vital health supplies.

“We are happy to support in flying vital equipment to families in Nigeria because it is important to keep the flow of food supplies, medicine and PPEs running to be able to navigate through the COVID-19,” said Ahmed.

These supplies, according to him, would support the government through the NCDC to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in affected states.

“COVID-19 is no respecter of persons, boundaries or territories. All hands must therefore be on deck to curtail its spread across the world. Our various contributions, which collectively amounts to over N400 million so far, show our high esteem for the country and for our people. We believe that when we work together, we would overcome soon,” Ahmed assured.

He also emphasised the importance of strict adherence to the various safety measures issued by the WHO and NCDC in curtailing the virus.

 

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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