APM Terminals Apapa, Nigeria’s largest container terminal, said it has handled over 8.1 million twenty equivalent units (TEU) of containers in the past 15 years of doing business in Nigeria.
Steen Knudsen, terminal manager of APM Terminals Apapa, said container volumes at the terminal have increased by an average of 23 percent annually over the past five years.
“We handled 8,134, 847 TEUs of containers since 2006 and more than 650,000 TEUs per year in 2020 and 2021 – the majority of that being import volume. Over the last years, we have managed to grow the business extensively – by 23 percent per annum on average. We are continuously making our terminal operations more efficient,” he said.
Continuing, he said: “While there is a compelling need to reduce the dwell time of containers at the terminal, there are several factors – most of them beyond the control of a terminal operator – that encourage consignees to keep their containers at the terminal for a long period of time.”
According to Knudsen, APM Terminals as a terminal is interested in ensuring that dwell time remains as low as possible but there are processes in place that the terminal does not have direct control of.
He listed some of the factors to include Customs clearing processes and related processes of other government agencies such as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and so on.
“These agencies all have to approve the movement of cargo out of the port. The more in harmony this process can work, the faster the cargo can move through the terminal and reduce costs for the importers. Another very relevant factor at the moment in terms of cargo flow is the foreign exchange rate to the US dollar, which is starting to hurt Nigerian importers, and cargo seems to be slowing down simply because warehouses are getting full. Hence, it is more likely that the container will stand in the seaport for a longer time,” Knudsen said.
He said the strategy of APM Terminals Apapa is to be the preferred logistics gateway into the Nigerian economy, and in doing so – to provide world-class services. “World-class services mean the shipping lines that come in get cost-efficient services that include handling vessels fast, which translate into a reduced cost of import and export in the market.”
“For the Nigerian importers and exporters, it would mean that our efficiency on the waterfront allows us to be also cost-efficient in terms of facilitating their trade back into the market. Another element of the strategy is, of course, continuous building and strengthening our operations in Nigeria,” he said.
Noting that APM Terminals is a global company, he said the terminal operator tries to bring in international practices and best standards to facilitate international trade.
He added that it is also important for the terminal to continuously focus on customer-centricity and on creating a consistent and safe environment for its employees.
“Customer centricity is not just about shipping lines, but also about internal customers to ensure that all the processes are consistent and efficient for facilitating trade. For our employees, it means we are the preferred employer; that we continuously offer the best facilities and safe operations so that they have long-term employment with us, can develop themselves, and go home safely at the end of the day,” he said.
APM Terminals Apapa has invested over $438 million in equipment, facilities, and other elements of its operations in the last 15 years. It has continued to introduce new innovations to help both shipping lines and landside customers achieve improved supply chain efficiency and flexibility in a cost-effective manner.