Congestion at Nigerian Sea Ports

As at the last count, more than 2000 vessels were still stranded on the high seas of Nigeria’s territorial waters due to their inability to berth at Lagos sea ports. This is not the first time importers and exporters are being made to go through a lot of pain to clear their goods at the nation’s sea ports. Annoyingly, it also appears this won’t be the last. As a matter of fact, congestion at the ports has become a chronic problem. It has been identified as one of the factors responsible for the diversion of Nigerian-bound goods to the ports of Benin Republic and Togo by Nigerian businessmen. No one can blame the importers, because even during non-crisis periods, it is still cheaper and faster to clear goods at the ports of these neighboring countries than at Nigerian ports, which explains why imported goods from Cotonou and Togo are cheaper than similar goods in Nigeria.

Successive administrations in Nigeria have repeatedly given the impression of attempting to address this issue. But none have gone beyond lip service. It is therefore understandable that most observers saw a recent stakeholders’ forum to address the issue of port congestion in Nigeria as another attempt by government to buy time. Many who received the news believed that the game of deceiving Nigerians was about to be repeated. Forum of various types have become a deceitful way of doing things at government ministries in this country. In the end, the only purpose such forum serve is to achieve publicity for government officials by forming part of news items on television network news.

We expect the federal government through the ministries of transport and finance to conduct an independent investigation into the problem of congestion at Nigerian ports so as to objectively identify the true causes of the congestion. A stakeholders’ forum which brings together customs officials and clearing agents cannot achieve anything. You cannot expect clearing agents registered by customs to openly criticize the customs. This is Nigeria; Customs will simply withdraw such agent’s license the next day.

Operators at the ports have often pointed accusing fingers at the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). The customs service still insists on manual inspection of all containers arriving at the ports. How many can they check in a day? A full, automated clearing system should be put in place as obtains in other parts of the world. Nigerians also see as disheartening the presence of multiple units of custom officials, all performing similar tasks at the ports. On its part, the NPA should purchase and install modern cargo-handling facilities to replace those epileptic, obsolete and non-functional equipments at the ports. The NPA also needs to jettison its policy of assigning certain vessels to particular ports, as this arrangement makes some terminals congested while others are barely utilized. Ships should be free to berth at any available terminal. Government should also take measures to fully equip other seaports outside of Lagos, such as Warri, Koko, Calabar and Onne sea ports which are grossly under-utilized.

Summary Measures such as these will help in addressing the long-standing problem of congestion at the nation’s seaports. Nigerian businessmen and ultimately the Nigerian economy will be the better for it.

Author: Kenneth J. Agwu

“Network Neutrality” – Life or Death For Independent ISPs

This is an issue to which every independent ISP — wireless or not — must pay attention. The regulations and legislation that are now being proposed will threaten the businesses of all independent ISPs. This is vital, folks! If independent ISPs don’t get active on this issue, you may all be toast.

While WISPS are thankful that winter is over and are gearing up for spring, the FCC and Congress are considering regulations and laws that would put them out of business.

The issue: “Network Neutrality.” Originally a benign concept which simply stated that ISPs should not leverage their positions in anticompetitive ways (e.g. the cable company blocking online video or the telcos blocking VoIP), the term has now been “hijacked” by vested interests who seek to impose regulations that would prevent ISPs from managing their bandwidth, blocking ports used by worms, preventing P2P from taking over their networks, or even selling different connection speeds at different prices!

What is amazing is that the FCC and Congressional aides have had little or no contact/discussions with any small ISP or WISP… and that they had been told repeatedly by advocates of “Network Neutrality” that competition for the cable and telephone companies was dead! They still apparently believe this, and are preparing to unleash regulations and legislation that will deal serious blows to cable companies and telcos but could very easily kill small ISPs and WISPs.

All independent ISPs, and especially WISPs, need to speak out on this issue.

WISPA filed no comments or reply comments in the proceeding, nor has it filed any ex parte memoranda in the docket. (You file an ex parte memorandum when you go to speak to staff or Commissioners at the FCC about an issue.) So, it does not appear to be lobbying at all on this important issue. The only ISP trade association that has filed anything is (Michael Anderson), and that filing was short, vague, and (based on comments from staffers within the FCC) insufficiently persuasive. ISPs and especially WISPs need to speak up on this issue. The proposed regulations would prevent you from throttling or blocking P2P …. allowing it to take over your networks and rob your bandwidth for the benefit of companies that use it to distribute content.

They might also force you to charge by the bit, raising your prices and/or making it impossible for you to compete with wired services in areas where you overlap with them. One FCC Commissioner has stated that he wants the FCC to make up rules as it goes along, penalizing ISPs on a complaint basis without any prior warning of what behavior might be penalized. It’s unfortunate that independent ISPs seem utterly blind to the fact that all of this is going on! That’s why independent ISPs need to form a coalition to address this specific issue. If you do not, you’ll likely be blindsided by regulations that make it impossible for you to continue in business.

Some of you believe that it is your job to provide bandwidth, not to decide what end users do with that bandwidth. To me, it is obvious that Comcast’s practice of playing man in the middle with PTP traffic is wrong, immoral, and bad for the network. In markets where Comcast is the only option, it is understandable that users are screaming for regulation. If their network, or your network for that matter, is being taken over by PTP then they are selling too much bandwidth to their users at too low a price. Perhaps they should re-structure their service plans to include per-month bandwidth caps or fees for usage over $X. A move away from advertising insanely high speeds on oversold connections with a 1 to 100 over-subscription would be a win for all of you

On the other hand, Service providers need to be able to prioritize traffic in a uniform manner by type while being prohibited from managing traffic by source or destination. If you are prioritizing VOIP traffic to your own VOIP service, you should be required to prioritize VOIP traffic to any other destination.

Right now, there are a large number of organizations arrayed against you. An organization called the “Network Neutrality Squad” is advocating that the government regulate and micromanage ISPs. Some of its demands include that ISPs not operate caching Web proxies, not block Port 25 to limit SPAM, not prioritize traffic (even VoIP), and not limit bandwidth hogging by P2P.

The EFF, a group called “Save the Internet”, and a number of commercial enterprises (e.g. Vuze, Inc. and BitTorrent, Inc.) whose businesses use P2P to dump costs on ISPs ….. have also been very active. And small, independent ISPs have been no-shows at the FCC hearing at Harvard, at the hearing two weeks ago before the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust subcommittee, and in virtually every other forum on the subject to date.

The FCC will be having a second hearing at Stanford University in mid-April, and ISPs need to call the Commission and ask to be on the panel. You also need to file comments in FCC Docket 07-52 and visit with the Commissioners and their staffs. You also need to call your Congressmen and Senators, especially if they sit on the House Commerce Committee, and get in on the Congressional hearings. At this point, you must take immediate and strident action to turn the tide, because it is running very much against you — mainly due to your failure to speak up.

You need to speak up, as most lawmakers are totally oblivious when it comes to the internet and are apt to propose, and even pass, inane laws and regulations. However, you should take a long look at your own practices and advocate what is right over what is best for your business model.

See this “Seven Principles” document for one person’s take on what’s reasonable to demand of ISPs and what is not — as well as the reciprocal responsibilities of users and content providers.

I’m concerned that so many WISPS are ignoring this potentially dangerous legislation. You can NOT ignore these issues and assume they will go away or evolve into a reasonable and logical determination that will support you. You MUST be proactive and your comments MUST stay pointed and on topic.

Or you can just blindly go about your business and let things happen to you.

Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures

Spending time aboard the ship is only half the fun of a Disney Cruise Line vacation. The cruise line specially selects shore excursions, called Port Adventures, to provide guests with the best sightseeing, leisure, and recreation opportunities that each port has to offer. Guests who want a memorable onshore experience add this feature to their Disney cruises. This is easy to do because Disney handles the planning. All you need to do is show up and have a good time!

Benefits of Reserving Port Adventures With Disney Cruise Line

Guests receive special benefits when they reserve a these wonderful adventures with the cruise line rather than booking an independent tour at the port. If they reserve online, their tickets will be waiting in their staterooms when they arrive on the ship. Guests save themselves the hassle of having to negotiate fares and handle currency exchanges. In addition, all excursions are fully refundable if the travel itinerary changes and ports of call are missed.

Tour times coincide with the ship schedule and other excursions so guests can participate in multiple tours. There are no worries if the Disney cruise ship arrives into port late because the activities schedule will be adjusted. Guests will not need to worry about missing port departure time due to their excursion running late. The Disney cruise ship will remain in port or free transportation will be arranged to the next port of call.

Characteristics of Disney Port Adventures

There are plenty of activities for all age groups, offering something for every guest. Each ship has experienced staff members onboard to provide information and advice to passengers. Port Adventures represent great values because they offer extras and packages that cannot be purchased elsewhere. Tours in the Signature Adventure Collection allow guests to add special experiences or use private vehicles during their time onshore.

Reserved Port Adventures can be cancelled up to three days prior to cruise departure date. These excursions are operated by independent contractors that are not affiliated with Disney Cruise Lines. However, they are subject to a cruise contract provided by the company, ensuring the highest levels of quality and service.

Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures include private sailing charters, VIP tours of Walt Disney World Resort, and golf outings. There is even a dolphin training program for cruises that include the port of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. The cost of a Port Adventures excursion is a bargain based on the amazing experiences this onshore trip includes.