NPA moves to attract large merchant vessels to Nigerian waters
Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said that to actualise the country’s maritime hub status and boost port revenue in the region, there is a need for investments in modern deep seaports that would attract very large merchant vessels.
Bello-Koko made the comment at the first retreat for the reconstituted Board of Directors of the Authority, with the theme “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence”, which ended last weekend in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
Speaking on the new direction and measures being put in place to actualise the Authority’s aspirations, the NPA acting managing director explained that a lot has been done, especially in the last few months to resolve most of the identified constraints to efficient movement of cargoes to and from port locations.
The acting NPA boss informed the board that recent interventions made by the authority has led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.
He explained that some of the benchmarks the authority is yet to achieve are dependent on externalities and variables that require concerted inter-agency actions.
Bello-Koko said the authority, despite dogged efforts, is yet to optimally achieve the benchmarks owing to systemic administrative constraints and red tapism, including conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the port value-chain and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplication of functions.
He further informed the board that concerted efforts were being made to expand the revenue streams of the authority, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.
“We are facing decaying port infrastructure. For example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them. With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities, hence the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings” he stated.
The NPA acting managing director disclosed that the authority’s management had begun to explore smart ways to boost the revenue performance of the organisation, adding that the authority is blessed with prime real estate, which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.
“NPA has a lot of high-value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones and mostly allocated, but with poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments, which would bring good revenue to the Authority and Federal Government,” he said.
Bello-Koko also touched on efforts by the management to make Nigerian seaports more business-friendly. He said the deployment of the Eto system is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.
Bello-Koko said NPA has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lilypond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.
He said the trucks would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform, adding that NPA is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance.
The NPA boss said other solutions being implemented is the push to link all seaports to the national rail network as well optimise the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.
He said currently, the authority is streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost-effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the Board, Emmanuel Adesoye, called for clear and deliberate efforts by the NPA towards efficient operations, competitive and diversified export driven economy.
He also called for a strong and incentive-based system aligned with win-win relationships to enhance profitability and productivity for the concessionaires, NPA, and the Nigerian State, as well as increase in alternative revenue streams and effective collaboration based on transparency and constant communication with all relevant stakeholders across the port value chain.