Ship Arrival / Cargo Tracking
Equipment in Use
Nigerian Seaport Concession
News and Development
Interview of the terminal
manager of Fivestar Logistics Terminal Apapa, Capt Jon Jon Peters as part
of the special focus on five years of private terminal concession in Nigeria.
"Half of the shipping
lines calling Lagos now did not do so in the past due to reasons of insecurity,
berthing and operational delays" - Capt Jon Jon.
Capt Jon Jon studied economics at Bombay
University in India before qualifying as a master mariner in 2000. According
to his resume’, he attended Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
as well as the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Training College, Melbourne Australia
in 1993 and 1997 respectively from where he bagged qualifications in petroleum
oil tanker safety and prevention and control of fires aboard ships, among
other endorsements. A member of the Nautical Institute, he began his present
stint as terminal manager of Fivestar Logistics Ltd Terminal at Tin Can
Island Port in 2006. But that was his second coming under the employment
of the Comet Group of Companies. From 2004 to 2006, he was the agency
operations manager of Comet Shipping Agencies Nigeria Ltd stationed at
Tin Can Island Port with a schedule to liaise and communicate with principals
and port officials to ensure a quick turnaround of vessels, while controlling
operational costs. At the time, Comet Shipping Agencies was about the
largest local shipping agency, being agents to MSC, Contilines, Clipper
Shipping Lines Ltd., Global Transports Oceanico S.A., Oldendorff and MUR
of South Africa, amongst others. Aside from his engagement at the Comet
Group, Capt Jon Jon held previous employments that saw him working around
other port cities in Nigeria, in neighbouring West African countries and
as a marine surveyor and consultant based in Hong Kong and covering Hong
Kong and parts of Southern China. In this interview, he explains the work
of Fivestar Logistics Ltd at Ro-Ro port and how the improving national
image of Nigeria as a port destination and hub can be consolidated. It
is noteworthy that majority of car carriers coming to Nigeria must use
the Fivestar Terminal because it is dedicated by facility. But how has
the private concessionaire bettered the atmosphere of commerce in that
sector of the industry? Excerpts:
DDH: Capt, how do you welcome incoming
ships to Fivestar Logistics Ltd Terminal, what you’re your procedures?
Capt Jon Jon: We have different kinds of customers. One is the regular
or what we term as the liner shipping lines which call on a regular basis
at Fivestar Logistics (FSL) terminal from once a month to thrice a month.
The other kind of vessel is a “one off” or “tramp”
which only makes one call. This kind of vessel is not so common at FSL
since our main clients are container and Ro Ro vessels which are generally
liner. With regard to flow of information, the shipping line’s local
ship agent communicates to Five Star the expected date of arrival of the
vessel, the quantity and kind of cargo and any other specific instructions
like heavy lift cargoes, etc. On berthing arrangements, we liaise with
the agents and they attend the NPA berthing meeting along with the terminal
representative, where the vessel is stemmed to our terminal. Agents like
Comet Shipping Agencies, Alraine, Hull Blight, etc are responsible for
government agencies like Immigrations, Customs, etc, to come in and complete
their formalities on board the vessels. Only after the formalities are
complete can the discharging process begin. Prior to the vessel berthing
the terminal planning department forecasts the estimated completion time.
This information along with the berthing lineup is sent electronically
on a daily basis to the ship agents/shipping lines via a “ship arrival
list” .The terminal keeps the ship agent/line appraised of the actual
time of completion thus allowing them to arrange the pilot and the tugboats
if required, as well as the final boarding processes by the Government
DDH: On average how long do vessels
stay in your terminal working?
Capt Jon Jon: Ro Ro vessels can stay from eight hours to twenty-four
hours. On average, I would say about 24 hours, depending on the number
of units onboard and the kind of vehicles on board. If you have brand
new vehicles, you can discharge up to 1,500 a day. If you are talking
about second hand vehicles and lorries, because they are difficult to
start, may not have tyres or they are loaded with heavy goods, they can
take more time. Container vessels spend abour 3-4 days alongside.
DDH: When they don’t have tyres, how do you unload them?
Capt Jon Jon: We use forklifts inside the ships hold to pick them
up and place them on our trailers, which we then tow off the vessel. We
are well equipped for this kind of cargoes as it forms a major segment
of our traffic due to the popularity of “tokunbo” or second
hand vehicles in Nigeria.
DDH: And these are mainly ….?
Capt Jon Jon: Trucks, cars, trucks loaded with trucks on top of it,
and cars on top of it. Three to six smaller cars loaded on top of one
DDH: And this is allowed?
Capt Jon Jon: Yes it is allowed from European ports. American ports
do not allow it. They are very strict. And then also European vehicles
are allowed to be loaded with goods, televisions, clothes etc.
DDH: On average how many ships call at your terminal weekly or monthly?
Capt Jon Jon: Monthly about twenty to twenty-five vessels.
DDH: How many ships have you received since inception in 2006?
Capt Jon Jon: ….About 1150 vessels till September this year.
DDH: Also what is the throughput so far in terms of volume of the
traffic, like number of containers, cars, etc?
Capt Jon Jon: For 2010, for example, vehicles about 78,000; import
containers – about 25,500 teus; full export containers – about
4,000 teus; general cargo about 35,000 metric tons.
DDH: What are the common hitches you experience in running the terminal?
Capt Jon Jon: Access roads and government agencies. Because of the
government agencies, the process of release is more convoluted causing
unnecessary delays. There are too many parties involved. Government has
taken cognizance of this issue recently and they intend to restrict the
total number of Government agencies in the port to six only.
DDH: Now they have been asked to quit
the ports, what is their response?
Capt Jon Jon: They have been given two weeks but they are still around.
DDH: In view of the challenges, how does your organization try to
cope with their coming at different times since you still have to deliver
Capt Jon Jon: We try to dialogue with them and also place staff for
duty for longer periods in order to accommodate them. We also appeal to
the authorities to have a 24-hour cargo clearance in place in order to
avoid traffic gridlocks around peak delivery times that cause hardship
to the general populace as well as the economy
DDH: Are there other constraints?
Capt Jon Jon: More port space is needed. You know Nigeria is a very big
market in Africa for maritime trade and should be better positioned but
the truth is that space has been wasted around the ports. Across the road,
space is misused; across the bridge, space is misused. These areas should
be converted to storage areas. Even the tank farms should be shifted.
Nowhere in the world do you have tank farms located in close proximity
of the cargo ports. It’s not even safe in terms of fire and explosive
DDH: Have the association of private terminal operators had the opportunity
to table these concerns for their attention?
Capt Jon Jon: Yes, many times. They are aware of it.
DDH: When you took over the facilities from NPA, how did you find
Capt Jon Jon: They were in a mess. They were not designed for smooth
operation. They used large offices. Everybody had their own enclosed office.
Spaces which could have been used for cargo were used for offices. Thereafter
we broke them down and they were converted, at times, to sheds. As per
the guidelines of our Promoter, Lt.Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, we are encouraging
the use of large open offices spaces. This discourages illegal activities
as everyone is visible to the managers. Anyway, we have worked our way
around it. I can say that we have now utilized every possible useful space
and yet our stacking areas and vehicle parks are not adequate for the
volume of cargoes flowing into the country.
DDH: So, what are you doing to cope with the shortages?
Capt Jon Jon: We are transferring cargoes to off-dock [inland bonded
facilities]. Vehicles are going off-dock as well now. This is a huge help
DDH: When ships call at your terminal, how much of direct delivery
do you do?
Capt Jon Jon: Only new vehicles like Toyota or Hyundai go by direct
delivery because they are going under bond. The large companies like Toyota
have their own bonded car parks outside. The Customs formality is much
easier. They can just take the vehicles out because it is a bonded area
they are going to. Everybody else have to go through the whole customs
DDH: So, the rest of the cargoes have to be stored. What kind of storages
do you have?
Capt Jon Jon: We have vehicle parks and we have the container yards
and we have sheds near the vehicle parks. Vehicles’ dwell time is
about two to three weeks. We give them three days free, after that we
charge them. Container dwell time is about two to three weeks.
DDH: How do you define dwell time here?
Capt Jon Jon: The time it remains in the terminal before it is collected
by the consignees.
DDH: What is the level of compliance with the dwell time specification?
Do you have any lagging behind, any overstay cargoes, etc?
Capt Jon Jon: It all depends on the shipping lines or the load ports.
If your container is coming from the Far East, China, etc, the contents
of the containers are mainly trading goods. The traders are very anxious
to get the units off the containers and turn them around fast and get
their returns. As opposed to shipping lines from Eurpoe. Their contents
are raw materials, tyres, those kinds of things. The consignee is generally
in not much of a hurry to get his goods out. So cargoes emanating from
Europe may stay three to four weeks
DDH: The main types of cargoes that come to your terminal are…?
Capt Jon Jon: Vehicles and containers.
DDH: What is the process of cargo release in Five star Logistics Ltd terminal?
Capt Jon Jon: For cargo release, a customer first obtains his release
from the shipping company after he presents his original bill of lading
and makes payment of what is due to the ship agency/shipping line. He
then comes to Fivestar, determines the location of the cargo, completes
the custom examination process, completes his custom duty process and
Five Star charges and takes delivery of his cargo.
DDH: At what point does he go to Customs, is it after he has paid
Capt Jon Jon: Not necessarily. It depends on the individual, it’s
up to them. But most of them normally do it simultaneously for Customs
and Immigration, etc.
DDH: In cargo release processes, how much of
fraud can go on undetected?
Capt Jon Jon: We have cut it down drastically
because we have computerized everything. We are still going further in
this respect by acquiring a new Terminal Operating System which will also
enable us to keep an electronic tally of cargoes, thus eliminating human
error. In addition, this will reduce the need for physical location of
cargoes, reducing the need for anyone to enter the car parks, which will
finally result in elimination of stealing and vandalization. This should
be up and running by early next year, if not before.
DDH: What are other challenges to efficient port system that you
Capt Jon Jon: We come up against a lot of fake documents, fake duty
payments, fake TDOs [terminal delivery orders], fake bank payments.
DDH: When these happen do you lose money?
Capt Jon Jon: We lose mainly our rent and our charges.
DDH: What other impediments to the smooth
running of the terminal exist?
Capt Jon Jon: The other problems we have are not with cargo per se
but in ship turn around because NPA still controls the pilots. Vehicle
carriers generally work very fast. What happens in most cases is that
the time the vessel takes to come in because there is no pilot, no tug
boats and the time after she completes her work and wants to sail out,
because there is no pilot and no tug boat, is sometimes more than the
actual time for operation at the port. The ship finishes in twelve hours
and may have lost one day: twelve hours to come in, twelve hours to go
out. Having said that it is noteworthy to say that there has been a slight
improvement this year, but still a lot needs to be done to reach an internationally
DDH: That is the problem for NPA, isn’t it?
Capt Jon Jon: Yes. It has to be privatized. Most parts of the world
I have travelled to and worked in, they have privatized pilotage. It may
be three companies rendering the service. This leads to competition which
encourages more efficient and cheaper services.
DDH: Is your experience with NPA pilots the same with other terminal
operators in Nigeria?
Capt Jon Jon: I would believe so.
DDH: And your suggested solution…?
Capt Jon Jon: (Cuts in) Privatization. Even Mr Adebayo Sarumi, the
ex-NPA managing director, recommended this once when I attended a maritime
conference. The solution is to privatize pilotage and pilot training.
There is scarcity of pilots in Nigeria.
DDH: Now, you have experienced port operations
in Nigeria before the seaport reforms which gave rise to the concession
programme and have been involved with the system since the inception of
concession. How do you compare the two situations?
Capt Jon Jon: Oh, serious changes. Vessel
turn around, vessel productivity, number of vessels coming, number of
shipping lines coming. Half of the shipping lines calling Lagos now did
not do so in the past due to reasons of insecurity, berthing and operational
DDH: Can you give examples?
Capt Jon Jon: MOL, Sallaum, K line, and many many more. Interestingly
you will also observe quite a few new container shipping lines are now
calling Nigeria which did not happen in the old days, for example , CSAV
, Nile Dutch ,UASC, etc. You probably already realize that increased competition
leads to lower freight rates which passes down finally to the common man
on the street in the form of lower prices of commodities.
DDH: So, we have more credibility now?
Capt Jon Jon: Defnitely
DDH: What more could be done to gain further credibility?
Capt Jon Jon: Security in the port. Control of the gates by NPA,
especially in respect of the movement of trucks in and out of the ports.
Once the trucks are in, you can’t turn them back. You find trucks
carrying containers breaking down in the ports.
DDH: So, when the break down inside the port, it becomes your problem?
Capt Jon Jon: A very big problem causing huge traffic gridlocks.
DDH: Now you talked about security in the port, how can we make it
Capt Jon Jon: First of all, clearing agents need to be regulated.
On average, I meet at least one consignee daily who has been duped by
a fraudster (419) agent. Some form of control and liability/responsibility
needs to be exercised. Presently, once anything illegal is carried out
using their name, they vanish without a trace. The Nigerian waters need
to be policed more strongly. Regrettably Nigeria is acquiring the status
of a dangerous port as far as piracy goes.
DDH: So that if any fraud is perpetrated using any recognized agent’s
name, that agent is ultimately responsible and liable?
Capt Jon Jon: Yes. That should help security in the port.