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Blog: ‘Safer, Better, Bigger - Together!’ – by Regional Managing Director, Africa & Europe - Igor van den Essen

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting our teams at APM Terminals Nigeria – for the first time in my new capacity as Regional Managing Director for Africa and Europe. The occasion was an important one – we were celebrating Global Safety Day and I could not have asked for a better place to spend it than with our dedicated colleagues in Nigeria, where we operate two sea terminals, in Apapa and Onne, in addition to an inland terminal in Kano.

igor-van-den-essenAs we discuss safety while we observe Global Safety Day annually, we continuously highlight how deeply it impacts our operations and our entire company. Being in an asset-heavy industry and due to the nature of our operations, we consider safety to be non-negotiable to us, our people and our partners across the port logistics ecosystem and it is also one of the three pillars of our strategy “Safer, Better, Bigger”.

400 Days Accident Free

In that context I was supper proud to celebrate with our colleagues an important safety milestone: APM Terminals Apapa recording 400 days of no Lost Time Injury (LTI). This a key indicator of the effectiveness of an organisation’s safety programme and it also means no injury was sustained on the job by an employee or contractor that resulted in the person being away from work due to their injury.

Apart from safety, I was also super proud of everything we are doing as organisation and teams to support and enable Nigeria’s future growth by developing reliable and sustainable logistics.

Digital customer solutions

This includes a strong focus on digitally-enabled solutions, as well terminal upgrade initiatives. To name just a few: two new digital initiatives rolled out recently in Apapa help us reduce process time of Terminal Delivery Orders (TDO) and truck waiting times – all for the benefit our customers.

In addition, a new digitalised office building we opened in Apapa will improve container handling operations and processing in the terminal, particularly in enabling electronic invoicing, electronic receipts and online payment processes that allow customers to fast-track their documentation.

$438 million investment

This is all part of a $438 million investment in developing infrastructure, acquiring equipment and improving processes at the terminal.

Also West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne is successfully executing on the Onne Terminal Upgrade Project – a $112 million investment with the ultimate goal of providing world class service delivery at the terminal.

With this project, the terminal will increase yard capacity, improve vessel operations and fast track the cargo delivery. The team at WACT are also actively working on continuous reduction of vessel idle time on arrival. For example, a significant improvement has been made in port hours saved for the vessels from arrival to departure, saving 3.6 thousand hours year to date.

Equal Opportunities

In our industry and business, just like in any other for that matter, progress is based on continuous improvement and that is accomplished by engaged, dedicated and passionate people. People like Fubara Precious Wiseman, who was one of our first female RTG (rubber tyred gantry) crane operator at WACT in Onne, when the terminal transitioned to that type of equipment.

In fact, she was the first female operator of any container handling equipment at WACT and her recruitment has paved the way for many more women to join the team and today we have a pool of 10 female RTG operators, while Fubara has moved further on her journey to become the first multi-skilled crane operator, operating both RTG and MHC (mobile harbour cranes). A truly inspiring colleague whom I had a pleasure of meeting while in Nigeria.

I already look forward to my future visits to Nigeria and to our other locations in Africa and above all, to meeting all the great colleagues who help us become the world’s best terminal company!