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NPA targets full automation of ports operation by 2024

The Managing Director of, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said the agency is working towards a fully-automated port system, where the vehicular and human interface will be reduced by 2024.

He disclosed this while addressing chief executives of ports and stakeholders from West and Central Africa at the meeting of the Port Management Association of West band Central Africa (PMAWCA), which ended in Luanda, Angola at the weekend.

According to him, efforts are already in place such that by 2024, Nigerian ports would be smart, adding that this will reduce carbonisation.

“By 2024, our port system will be fully automated to enable a paper-smart and less carbon-intensive operational environment and commuting. This will assuredly add to the port environmental quality-enhancement drive,” he said.

Bello-Koko also told the delegates that Nigeria is leading efforts to implement the concept of ‘Ports with Acceptable Risk’ (PWAR) as presented in 2019 at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

He explained that the concept, aside from its capacity for biodiversity protection, also has the potential to decarbonise global shipping through the reduction of the average carbon emissions of ships per ton mile.

The NPA boss said as an obligatory environmental and regulatory compliant mechanism, the system will also serve as an additional revenue centre for the seaports to ensure the system’s sustainability.

Speaking on climate impact on port infrastructure, the NPA boss acknowledged that ports are susceptible to the effects of climate change, which can, in turn, impact port infrastructure.

He explained that due to their coastal location, seaports tend to be susceptible to climate variations that could impact primarily on the integrity of the port infrastructure, which could consequentially impact the logistic value chain for which seaports are critical components.

According to him, climate change impact management of seaports should be approached from not just the angle of building port infrastructure resilience, but also logistic chain resilience.

He advised that seaports should not adopt a quick-fix ‘copy and paste’ set of solutions to climate challenges, even as he noted that outsourced solutions are often unsuccessful because they do not usually consider “Ports’ infrastructural designs, environmental contexts and geographical uniqueness, as would home-grown solutions.”

Stressing further on localised solutions, Bello-Koko explained that a good example of a context-sensitive solution is the case of Ballast Water Management Convention compliance where shipowners are under obligation to retrofit their existing ships with onboard Ballast Water Treatment Systems.

He said this mandatory obligation might not be favourable to developing countries in view of the fact that the majority of global merchant fleets, although western-owned, are flagged by developing nations.

“This means that these groups of ships (which are in the majority) stand the risk of being blacklisted if they are not retrofitted with type-approved ballast water treatment systems before the deadline for all ship types by September 2024,” he said.

In view of the challenges, Bello-Koko said NPA has developed a concept, which was presented and approved at the 2019 IMO MEPC 74 meeting, proposing that these groups of ships could be conferred with ‘compliance’ status, even without an installed type approved Ballast Water Treatment System.

He told the delegates that the concept entailed the treatment of host harbour water in a port-based treatment facility referred to as ‘Pre-loading Onshore Ballast Water Treatment using a greener energy source, thereby, reducing the carbon intensity of the ships.

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