The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is currently facing port infrastructure decay in four of its ports as the quay aprons at Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar ports have collapsed. It was gathered that it would require huge funds to repair the aprons.
Determined to upgrade and expand the infrastructure, the management of the Authority has approached some multilateral financial institutions like French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeriaapproved fund manager for InfraCorp) to access long term low interest credit.
The Authority’s General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Olaseni Alakija, said that it had become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to the decaying facilities with the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation.
He added that despite efforts made, the Authority was yet to made some progress 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.
However, the acting Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, explained that the Authority was poised to leverage Nigeria’s status as Africa’s biggest economy to actualise the country’s maritime hub status in the region through investments in modern deep seaports that will attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.
He explained in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the first retreat for the reconstituted Board of Directors of the Authority, with the theme: “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence,” that NPA was making some measures to actualise its aspirations, noting that a lot had been done in the last few months to resolve most of the identified constraints to efficient movement of cargoes to and from port locations.
Bello-Koko said: “Nigeria accounts for about 70 per cent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.
Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations make development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.”
The managing director explained that the Bonny seaport project, boosted by two major railway projects, would also massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South South and South Eastern regions, adding that the South Western axis was the Lekki Deep Seaport, which should be operational next year. Bello-Koko said that the two port projects would usher in a new vista of economic prosperity and further consolidate the country’s status as gateway to the African economy.
The acting director stressed that the recent interventions by the Authority led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the port, adding that concerted efforts were being made to expand the revenue streams of the Authority.
According to him, “unlike the practice in our sister francophone countries where government funds the dredging of ports, we are responsible for the funding of ours, which put a lot of strain on our resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.
“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 explained that NPA was blessed with prime real estate, which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.