A proposal to give 30 per cent tariff rebate to terminal operators at the Rivers Port to boost the dwindling vessel and cargo traffic is being considered with a condition by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). This is after a similar concession of a 10 per cent rebate granted by the Authority to the operators in the area failed to yield the desired result as vessels continued to snub eastern ports.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, warned that such relief would not be automatic, but conditional, noting that such a request would be based on the commensurate impact it would have on cargo and vessel traffic.
He recalled that a similar tariff rebate had been granted in the past without much impact on the traffic to the ports. Bello-Koko explained: “Some years ago, we have given them tariff relief; a kind of rebate but that didn’t bring the expected impact on traffic into the port.
We are reviewing their request for a 30 per cent rebate but we need to understand that we don’t just give a rebate without some conditions. “We will seat with them, those discussions have started, we give them the conditions based on the tariff relief. It might be lower or higher than 30 per cent. It depends and we also give a timeline.
For instance, we might say this relief is for a year and let’s see the impact. “We wouldn’t want to give a tariff relief to a terminal operator who, for instance, brings in four vessels in a month and even with the rebate, he is still bringing in four or fewer vessels.
That is not what we want. We want to see increased activities at the ports and we want to encourage that as much as possible. “Some of the terminals have started getting involved in the processing of exports, that is a very key and important thing for us as an authority and it is also necessary for Nigeria to export say agric. products and this is one of the things that we encourage the amount of tariff relief we give to the terminal operators.”
Bello-Koko stressed that he was at the Rivers Ports to see how the dilapidated structures could be rehabilitated, saying that two of the terminal operators, Ports and Terminal Operators Limited (PTOL) and BUA Terminal Limited, both operating at the Port Harcourt ports, have shown commitment towards rehabilitating the superstructure at their terminals.
According to him, PTOL had a development plan, which involves bringing down some of the sheds and removing stacking areas, thereby creating more space to accommodate more cargo.