Govt moves to review ports’ concession agreement
Laments inadequate revenue from maritime sector
IN its shopping for a balm to heal the ailing economy, the Federal Government is to review ports’ concession agreement entered into with private seaport terminal operators in 2006.
Some of the concession agreements, designed to lift the operations of Nigerian ports, will elapse before the end of this year.
Already, the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has concluded plans to forward a memo to the government on the need for the review.
Speaking at an interactive session with maritime stakeholders in Lagos yesterday, the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, lamented that the Federal Government was not getting adequate revenue from the maritime sector despite its huge potential. “What the maritime sector contributes is too insignificant compared to its potential. Why? We need to find out why?” he said.
Though the minister did not disclose how much the government is earning currently, he said the Ministry of Transport would engage an audit firm charged with the responsibility of looking at the concession agreements, adding: “The port is nearly the same after the concession. I don’t think we are making the kind of money we should be making.”
The minister told the gathering that the aim of the government is to increase its revenue potential, especially in the maritime sector.
Speaking further during the meeting attended by the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Habib Abdullahi; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello; representative of key stakeholders in the sector, among others, the minister pledged to abide by all agreements entered into by the government in the discharge of its responsibilities.
He said: “This is not a probe. We are committed to all agreements entered into. We just want to find out why the sector is not contributing enough. We (Federal Government) want to find out how to move the sector forward.”
Responding, Abdullahi described the concession scheme as successful. “Look at where we were and where we are now. Look at the level of sophistication. We should review what has happened, compare some performance with others.”
Besides, a seasoned maritime lawyer, Mike Igbokwe, advised the minister to create a level-playing field for all stakeholders, saying: “Concession is a right move in the right direction. Level-playing field should be created as it is the only way to encourage growth and stimulate development.”
The minister, who spoke on sundry issues, advised parties to any dispute to forward their position papers and relevant documents to his office for appropriate resolutions.
He said: “I have no personal interest. Forward your documents to me and I will forward them to the President. We will abide by all agreements reached. Agreement is the tonic for any business transactions.”
Other participants, who spoke at the event, agreed that the ports are on the path of growth due to the concession scheme initiated by the Federal Government.