Chief Patrick Nwankwo is the Managing Director, GPC, Global Ventures Limited, he is a Shipping Agent, Stevedoring Contractor, a Cargo Surveyor and also into Mining Services. In this edition of your Shippers Guide, he explains what it takes to delve into stevedoring business, what the business entails and the state of the business since it was handed over to the terminal operators. Enjoy the piece.
What does stevedoring really entail?
Stevedoring is all about handling of cargoes, all types of cargo from off-shore, on-shore and inside the terminals. We off-load cargo from ships, all types of cargo, both dry and wet cargo. A stevedoring contractor is the person who handles all sorts of activities on bulk vessels especially areas that concern cargo. We also employ experienced dock workers. These dock workers are being trained by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. They handle all types of cargo. The work of a stevedoring contractor is to carry out the operation, position the workers, handle the cargo and apply other technical know-how in terms of off-loading the cargo from the vessel.
Where do stevedores work?
Stevedores work in the Nigerian sea ports, across the country, any where there is port that handles cargo, and there must be a stevedoring contractor that will handle the cargoes. The contractor carries out the stevedoring work with experience. Any cargo that comes inside the port through ship must go through a stevedoring contractor. It is the contractor who is going to handle the workers.
How Lucrative is stevedoring as a business?
It is not all that lucrative, but the most important thing is that, it is a work that must be done, and it involves all sorts of things. It is not all that lucrative because of the volume of activities it involves, the commitments, and the requirements by government to meet the maintenance of stevedoring and dock workers. Technology advancement in the use of equipment and maintaining work standards are what have contributed in making the production of stevedoring contractors to be less lucrative.
Does it mean that the equipments used by stevedores are provided by them and not the government?
Government is no more working on ports now. It is the terminal operators that are in charge, and they have their own areas they have to equip the workers and the stevedoring contractors also have their areas to equip. There is a standard that you must attain before requiring the attention of NIMASA, of which if you don’t meet up with the standards, they will cancel your contract.
What are these standards?
Nobody enters the port without getting himself equipped with security and safety. You must come in with your kits, your boots, and overall kits. All these people must undergo the training in order to get themselves well equipped to work inside the port as dock workers.
What are the necessary steps to becoming a stevedoring practitioner?
First of all, before you can be a stevedoring contractor, there are requirements you must have by the regulatory authority. The regulatory authority will come out and give you the foundation, if you can be able to meet the requirement, they will give you licence to operate as a stevedoring contractor, but if you are not capable, they will not issue you the licence.
You made mention of dry and wet cargo, what are they?
Cargo that comes in liquid like oil, petroleum, chemicals, any cargo that comes in liquid is called wet cargo, while the dry cargoes are cargoes that come in bulk containers, bulk goods, rice sugar etc.
As a stevedoring contractor, are there challenges you face in the course of carrying out your duties?
Any business at all has challenges, and stevedoring company is not exceptional. There are challenges that face every company, even if you are not a stevedoring contractor, you may be running another business that is faced with different challenges, so the same thing is applicable with the stevedoring contractors. They face challenges too.
What is the state of the business since it was handed over to the terminal operators?
The operation of stevedoring is more standard to be sincere. You know the operators came in and opened the port. There is a lot of development in the areas I operate. And I am telling you that the stevedoring contractors now see a lot of changes in terms of operation, which is why I mentioned standards. Most of the terminal operators have their own standards too and you cannot enter into the port without getting yourself properly equipped, and you must know the work you are going to do before you are employed. If you go into the port now, you will find out that there is a lot of development by the terminal operators. So I have to tell you that the concession by giving out that port to the terminal operators is the best. That is why in some of the areas, you will find out that they are now meeting up with international standards unlike before. And there is more in-flow of cargoes in the terminals today.