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Review of port concessions imminent

… As operators bemoan decline in cargo throughput

Stories by STAN OKENWA

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Usman, has given a clear indication that her leadership will soon review several port concession agreements made during the privatization of terminals few years back.
She made the remarks in Calabar at the commencement of a three-day facility tour of the Calabar port.
Among the establishments toured include facilities at Intels Logistics Services Nigeria Ltd, Ecomarine Terminals and Shoreline Logistic Ltd.
Usman noted that the review of the concession agreement would have to be carried out in order to put all players on the same page. She spoke against the backdrop of many complaints by concessionaires in the port.
She also revealed that NPA is to partner with Cross River State government in opening up the Calabar port, considering the proximity to the North East.
The NPA boss declared; “It is important for us to revive that route so that the mineral deposits in the North would be exported abroad through the port”.
While stressing that the 10-year old port concession exercise is due for review, she addied that the review will broadly examine all facets of the terms of the port concession engagement.
“The review would cover areas like financing models and the concession environment.
We will reach out to the ICRC and they would be part of the review,” she said.
Usman said that as the nation’s economic climate changes, there was need to adjust.
She also said that many agencies including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were indebted to the NPA, adding that the management will proceed aggressively to recover the debts.
In protecting the organisation’s revenue, the managing director assured that the management would look at whatever financing models were put in place and would not accept anybody short changing the Federal Government.
She noted that there are areas of revenue leakages, adding that NPA had put in place e-payment system to prevent data manipulation as the authority moved toward implementation of a single window regime.
Besides all the three major operators in the port lamented over inactivity, saying they were experiencing 25 per cent capacity utilisation in the port due to low throughput and dropping patronization.
The General Manager, ECM Terminals Ltd, Kingsley Iheanacho, said the terminal no longer earned revenue from yard operations, saying container vessels and clearing agents were not coming to the port any longer.
Iheanacho said that the terminal was just barely managing to remain afloat and operating skeletal services.
“Presently, we are having 25 per cent utilisation and that is what Calabar port is all about,” he said.
He lamented that the management of the terminal spent a lot of money monthly to maintain equipment at the facility.
“We were assured dredging would be completed by December 2006 but this has not been done,” Iheanacho said.
Welcoming the new managing director, the Port Manager of Calabar Port, Oluseyi Ogunbdele, said the port management and the General Manager, Eastern Ports, had been engaging stakeholders on how to boost container traffic in the port. He recalled that when he assumed duty in Sept. 2015, he inherited some challenges ranging from the relocation of passenger boat operations from the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) jetty to shoreline terminal.
Ogundele also spoke about the problems of power supply and congestion along the port access road.
“Today, passenger boat operation is running smoothly at shoreline logistics terminal; public power supply had been restored; and the heavy traffic gridlock along the port access road has been contained.
“Again, through the initiative of local port management, the wreckage of a ship “Hope of ECOWAS” which has been a long-standing limitation to port operation has been removed.
“Other wreck such as `Cala Niger’, is also on the verge of being removed,” he said.
He said that other challenges confronting the port management include completion of the dredging of the Calabar channel and provision of modern equipped tugs and pilot cutters.
Ogundele also called for guaranteed security in the port and its channels.
He complained about erosion menace within the port and at Harbour Village and the bad state of the common user roads within the concessioned terminals and the entire port.
On revenue in the first half of the year, the port manager said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is indebted to NPA an amount of N152.8 million.
He said that from January to June 2016, the port generated N450.9 and 7.5 million dollars, while N106.9 million 6.2 million dollars were collected in the same period of 2015.
According to Ogundele, in the first half 216 vessels entered the port with 1.8 million tonnes against 165 vessels with 2.1 million tonnes in the corresponding period of 2015.
“This showed 30.91 per cent increase in vessel traffic and 15.1 per cent decrease in Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT).
“A total of 1.0 million tonnes of cargo was handled during the first half in the port compared to 1.1 million tonnes recorded in the same period of 2015, indicating 10.29 per cent decrease.

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