Port concession saves Nigeria over $1.6bn in 16 years, says Haastrup
Chairman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has said the efficiency and other benefits brought by the port concession exercise saved the economy over $1.6 billion in the last 16 years.
Haastrup, who was represented by the spokesman of STOAN, Dr. Bolaji Akinola, at a maritime stakeholders’ event in Lagos, said the exercise has been a huge success and brought tremendous improvements to the nation’s port system.
She said the port concession programme has reduced the waiting time of vessels coming into the nation’s ports from an average of 45 days before 2006 to less than three days at present.
She said it has also helped in eliminating the notorious congestion surcharge hitherto imposed on the ports by major shipping lines under the aegis of the Europe-West Africa Trade Agreement (EWATA).
According to her, the elimination of the port congestion surcharge resulted in saving Nigeria’s trading community about $100 million per annum.
Haastrup listed the other benefits of port concession including, the injection of private capital into port development, freeing up government resources for other developmental purposes and elimination of port congestion.
Others are modernisation of ports, improved availability of cargo handling equipment, competition among terminal operators, improved welfare and training of port workers as well as the institution of a condition of service for dockworkers.
She said before port concession, dockworkers were casualised and did not have conditions of service, noting that the narrative has since changed with the introduction of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which created a condition of service for them and also room for a review of their remuneration every two years.
Haastrup said Nigeria’s port concession regime has been studied and duplicated by many other African countries.
She stated further that while the retrenchment of the workers of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was a painful part of the port reform exercise, the government should ensure that all the affected former NPA employees get the financial entitlements due to them.
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