Every day is different in dealing with the wide diversity of ships calling at African ports and Inchcape Shipping Services´ port agency staff on the ground have proven adept at adapting to the challenges each day has to offer.
Inchcape´s local teams comprise a total of around 300 expert personnel spread across nearly 45 ports in eight countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and Ghana – that are supported by business partners in other locations to give 24/7 coverage spanning the sub-Saharan region of the continent.
Local knowledge of port operating procedures is crucial to help shipowners navigate complex rules and regulations that vary widely across different ports and can result in costly fines if not tackled correctly.
Code of conduct
Integrity and transparency are also important to combat the risk of bribery and corruption at certain locations. Inchcape employees adhere to a strict code of business conduct and ethics applied across its global offices, with zero tolerance for such illicit activity, as well as international QHSSE standards. Our local approved vendors are also audited annually to ensure they uphold the same standards.
And this policy is not just words.
In one incident in Lagos, Nigeria, an Inchcape-approved driver transporting a crew member to the airport was stopped by local police, even though he had committed no traffic violation, and steadfastly resisted a bribery attempt before finally being allowed to go. Fittingly, his brave stand earned praise from the ship manager client and he was also rewarded by Inchcape for his efforts.
This clearly demonstrates how our clients are increasingly demanding such high standards of integrity in providing port agency services to avoid higher costs and reputational risk.
Inchcape´s team in the port of Mombasa, Kenya has also seen some drama, having handled the cargo ship Maersk Alabama following its hijacking by Somalian pirates in 2009 – the subject of the movie Captain Phillips – as well as other ships targeted in similar incidents.
Indeed, versatility goes with the job description for our port agency staff, including those at the Lagos office who had to arrange the emergency evacuation from a ship of the pregnant wife of its chief officer amid lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Familiarity with local restrictions and constantly changing protocols during the pandemic also meant the Ghana team could efficiently carry out crew changes with effective testing procedures to avoid quarantines that could have incurred additional transport and other costs, enabling over 40 crew movements in less than three weeks – and leading to a flood of crew change enquiries!
Handling more than 1500 port calls a year, Inchcape staff have proven highly adaptable and reliable all-rounders in dealing with all manner of drybulk cargoes – like coal, cement and steel – and many different types of vessels, as well as crew changes, to ensure efficient port turnarounds.
This can also demand going beyond the call of duty as when an Inchcape operator in Mozambique kept port calls running smoothly amid Tropical Cyclone Eloise that hit the town of Beira in early 2021, even while his own family were evacuated as the roof of their home was ripped off. Needless to say, the global Inchcape family rallied to their assistance by crowdfunding the cost of a new roof.
Such a concerted effort reflects how our local teams in Africa can draw on the resources, knowledge and expertise of Inchcape´s supportive global network to expedite port calls, as well as interact with each other to provide assistance in areas like IT and training.
Because together we are stronger. Now that´s teamwork.
If you would like to speak to us about your requirements in Africa, please contact our team. We would love to hear from you.