Surmounting challenges to align with international ports’ standards should be non-negotiable at moment, if the outfit must stand the tests of time.
Someone once likened ports to hotels whose profitability largely depends on its attractiveness, publicity and quality of service offered visitors. The port of Douala cannot afford to be different and authorities have seemingly been working tooth and nail to live up to expectation.
Mustering the courage to finally dislodge illegal occupants on sensitive zones of the Douala Port, like the 55 families chased out on 16 January 2018 and others being identified for the same displacement, are good steps in right direction to reconquer vital space for fruitful operations. This for instance, could help to step up the logistics zone for better port activities.
Beyond reconquering physical space, there shouldn’t be renege with economic space. Concrete efforts need to be stepped up to guarantee business people of a comfortable import and export window via Douala. Managers shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that times are changing, in fact evolving, and so should the port.
Until recently, the Port of Douala was the only route and port around. Today, we have the port of Sudan, Cotonou, Pointe Noire and there are even ports in Libya. This alone is already a threat requiring robust business-friendly strategies to measure up, else it succumbs under the weight of growing competition.
Inasmuch as the newly-constructed Kribi Deep Seaport may not be into any competition with that of Douala, its technical characteristics however sounds a wakeup bell for Douala. Kribi is obviously a deep seaport and Douala a river port which needs costly dredging all the time. Its shallow depth of about 7 m makes it difficult for ships with drafts of about 13 m to harbour therein.
Kribi therefore offers a comparative advantage as ships with 13 m draft can conveniently anchor, owing to its security distance of 1m and 1.5 m.
Experts say in Kribi, the depth around the jerry is 16 m which makes the infrastructure capable of receiving all types of ships in the world. Coupled with this is its channel of 15 m, which experts say, is the best in the Central African Sub region and which is far above that of Douala said to be 6-7 m.
These alongside management challenges like the deadline for clearing goods require action. There are obviously best practices authorities must incorporate to align with non-negotiable international ports’ standards. Others have done so elsewhere and are succeeding with visible fruits. Failure or delays in doing so here can be detrimental in a competitive sector like ports.
Fortunately, authorities have been beating their chests lately with the arrival of the latest-generation third gantry crane, which they qualify as highly efficient, capable of simultaneously accosting two containers both at loading and offloading.
The state-of-the-art equipment imbued with latest technology and innovative control systems alongside new floating engines are expected to modernise ports management. As good as these may sound, the powers that be absolutely need to redouble their efforts in taking other innovative initiatives susceptible to rendering the Douala port more competitive.
Efficacy guarantees competitiveness and the latter undeniably begets profitability!