Vandals’ attempt at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Port Harcourt Port Wharf that would have cost millions of naira to fix was foiled on Monday, thanks to the efficient security measures on ground at the port.
According to the authority, the vandals tried to cut a steel beam underneath a quay apron when they were spotted, and with the effort of the NPA Port Harcourt Port security on routine patrol around the wharf and the Marine Police, the vandals, who took off upon sighting the port security, were caught after a hot chase.
By foiling the vandalism, the NPA Port Harcourt Port has prevented what could have caused a temporary disruption of shipping business at the port and a subsequent drop in the nation’s revenue generation.
This is because, for steel beams – which serve as underneath pillars to quay aprons – to be stolen, they have to be cut off. But cutting them poses a great danger to the quay aprons by exposing them to collapse.
The moment they collapse, the shipping business at the port will be disrupted until reconstruction is effected, and that will cost millions of naira.
The security feat recorded on Monday, with the arrest of the two vandals – 38-year old Williams Tabotamuno, and 44-year old Akpos Ekiye – both males, is, therefore, an economic advantage for Nigeria at a time the nation is working hard to recover from the economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic and inflation.
Evelyn Tami Peterside, commissioner of police, Eastern Ports Police Command, during a press briefing at the NPA Port Harcourt Port last Wednesday, threw more light on the economic importance of the quay aprons the port security prevented from being destroyed by the vandals.
“Quay apron is where vessels off-load whatever they’re carrying before it’s taken away. The same way, if you’re exporting, that is where you off-load it before you put it in the vessel.
“If that quay apron is destroyed, it means that the business or economic activity in that port is destroyed because when the vessels come with containers, they cannot off-load them. In the same vein, if you want to export anything, it cannot be loaded inside that vessel. So, it’s very important.
“When they (vandals) remove this big iron that is used to build these quay aprons, they will collapse,” she explained.
According to her, the vandals were spotted when signs of movement beneath the quay aprons caught the attention of people around the wharf.
“Luckily, the port security was on patrol. When they saw that people were gathering, they stopped. The moment they suspected that people were under, they immediately alerted the marine police and the marine police chased after them,” she further explained, adding that the vandals were arrested near the Rivers State Police Command Marine.
Items recovered from the vandals were one techno phone, one wooden canoe with particles of rusted iron fillings, two paddles, and three gas cylinders of different sizes, two spanners and a half loaf of bread.
The NPA Port Harcourt Port also recorded another success with the recovery of 23 bags of wheat stolen from the terminals between 12th October 2021 and 3rd November 2021.
The 23 bags of wheat are valued at one hundred and sixty-six thousand, five hundred naira (N166,500).
The five suspects arrested in connection with the theft are Chibuike Itemo, Lucky Obenuwoma, Jonathan Samuel, Ebenezer Kingsley and Jonah Christmas.
These feats recorded by the NPA Port Harcourt Port attest to the improved security network and surveillance mechanism adopted by the Port to check the activities of criminals and boost the confidence of its business partners such as the concessionaires/terminal operators, the exporters, importers and their licenced agents.
Some of the partners, who later spoke to BusinessDay in reaction to the security feat achieved by the NPA Port Harcourt Port, said it has not only increased their confidence to keep doing business at the port but will encourage them to bring more importers and exporters to the port.
“Now, some of our brothers who are also into importation, when they hear this good news that security has improved in this Port Harcourt Port, they will come here to do their business,” an importer told BusinessDay.