Acting executive director of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said to update the status of the country’s maritime hub and increase port revenues in the region, investments are required in modern deep-sea ports that will attract huge numbers of merchant ships.
Bello-Koko made the comment at the first closed session of the agency’s newly constituted Board of Directors on “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence”, which ended last weekend in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Regarding the reorientation and actions taken to make the agency’s aspirations a reality, the NPA’s incumbent executive said that much has been done, particularly in recent months, to address most of the identified restrictions on the efficient movement of cargoes to from port locations.
The incumbent NPA boss informed the board that the agency’s latest interventions have led to a significant improvement in ship and cargo dwell times in the ports.
He explained that some of the benchmarks that the Authority has yet to meet depend on external effects and variables that require concerted interinstitutional action.
Bello-Koko said that despite persistent efforts, the agency is not yet having to optimally achieve the benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and bureaucracy, including conflicting guidelines from agencies operating within the port value chain and reporting to various oversight ministries with overlapping responsibilities and duplication of functions.
He also advised the Board of Directors that concerted efforts would be made to expand the agency’s revenue streams in addition to those from traditional port operations.
“We are facing a decaying port infrastructure. For example, portions of the wharf protrusions or walls in the ports of Tin Can Island, Onne, Delta and Calabar are collapsing and requiring enormous funds to repair. With increasing pressure to send more revenue to the Federation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), it has become very difficult to find adequate funds for these decaying facilities, “he said.
The NPA’s acting executive announced that the agency’s management has begun exploring smart ways to increase the organization’s revenue performance, adding that the agency has been blessed with prime real estate to serve as alternative sources of funding outside of the regular budget could.
“NPA has many high-quality properties in Onne, Snake Island and Takwa Bay, which are designated as free trade zones and largely assigned, but with a poor network of arterial roads and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments and good income for government and government”, he said.
Bello-Koko also discussed management efforts to make Nigerian seaports more business-friendly. He said the use of the Eto system is gradually restoring sanity in the trucking business, despite initial teething troubles and opposition from stakeholders who have so far benefited from the chaos.
Bello-Koko said that in addition to Lilypond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, the NPA has accredited 33 private truck terminals in the Lagos area to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.
He said the trucks are only allowed to go to the port after receiving electronic tickets through the “eto” viewing platform, adding that the NPA is working with the Lagos State government to ensure enforcement and compliance.
The NPA boss said other solutions that are being implemented are the push to connect all seaports to the national rail network and optimize the use of inland waterways by handling cargo or containers by barge.
He said the agency is currently streamlining inland shipping operations to ensure efficiency, safety and affordable freight deliveries for higher port revenues.
Previously, in his welcoming address, Emmanuel Adesoye, the chairman of the board, called for clear and conscious efforts by the NPA to ensure efficient processes and a competitive and diversified export-oriented economy.
He also called for a strong and incentive-based system geared towards win-win relationships to increase profitability and productivity for the concessionaires, the NPA and the Nigerian state, as well as alternative sources of income and effective collaboration based on transparency and permanent Increase communication with all relevant stakeholders along the port value chain.