The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has called on African governments and others involved in the global maritime business to prioritise investments in key technologies, including intermodal connectivity systems, to boost their ports’ operational efficiency.

The NIMASA boss gave the charge in his speech at the Crans Montana Forum Club Of Ports which held in Brussels Belgium, stressing that good port- city linkage systems would facilitate seamless transport and create immeasurable positive effects on national economies,

A statement issued by the agency’s Head, Corporate Communications, Isichei Osamgbi, quoted Peterside as saying that the quality of the rail and road transport connection to a port usually have positive impacts on the cargo throughput of the ports and the economies.

He stated: “The efficiency of a port is measured by the average quantity of import and export cargoes it is able to handle in a single day. A port with bad road and rail facilities will have low cargo throughput, all other factors remaining equal.

“While ships start and end their journey in a port, the cargoes in most cases originate and end up far from the ports. This in effect implies that without the connection of other modes of transport to a seaport especially rail and road transport, the port becomes crippled and the sea transport becomes inefficient”, the NIMASA boss added.

The industry expert noted that some port managements, particularly in developing countries , failed to appreciate the role an effective intermodal connectivity could play in their efforts to improve the efficiency of their ports.

He, however, pointed out that Nigeria was already investing heavily on linking all major sea ports and airports to the cities through rail and good access roads in order to accelerate the nation’s economic growth.

The NIMASA chief urged port managements in other developing nations to learn from the Nigerian experience by investing more in intermodal connectivity to enhance their ports’ operations as an efficient land transport system will minimize vessels idle time, thereby reducing the turnaround time of vessels and make the ports more competitive and profitable.

He clarified: “The Nigerian Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is investing heavily in using rail to link both the seaports and the airports to all major cities in the country.

“Our quest to enhance the quality of the rail and road transport connection to all ports in Nigeria is to ensure seamless transportation of goods and services through the ports”, he added.

Peterside noted that the turnaround time in most African ports was high because of the inefficiency and lack of necessary port infrastructure which leads to longer dwell time for vessels and cargoes in the ports with the resultant effect on costs of goods.

He also explained that while transport cost adds between two percent to five percent to the final cost of imported cargoes in developed countries, it accounted for as much as 15 percent to 50 percent in developing countries.