Worried by the near absence of port infrastructure seven years after the port concession, a seaport terminal operator at the weekend took a swipe at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over its failure to develop or upgrade existing port infrastructure in line with the port concession agreement.
The Federal Government had in reforming the nation’s port system in order to enhance efficiency and cost reduction adopted the Landlord model fashioned after the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, which stripped NPA of its cargo handling functions and gave same to private terminal operators, both foreign and indigenous ones, which are believed to be more efficient.
The concession agreement partly specifies that while the concessionaires are to develop and modernise their terminals as well as acquiring plants and equipment, NPA is to develop and maintain common user facilities such as roads, provision of water and power for the port system, which it has failed to do, thus hampering efficient port operations. A top official of a major terminal operator in the country, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, regretted that seven years into the agreement, nothing has changed in terms of the development or upgrading of existing basic port infrastructure by the authority.
According to him, while most of the concessionaires have taken giant steps at transforming the terminals as well as acquiring world-class equipment that would facilitate efficient cargo delivery, the authority has done practically nothing as most of the port connecting roads including those within the seaports are in terrible state of disrepair. “When you enter the port terminals, you see world-class facilities and equipment by when you come out it is a different ball game all together.
You see that most of the roads even inside the seaports are so dilapidated that trucks fall down while trying to manoeuvre, in front of the terminals are always congested with trucks and this affects operations inside the terminals because it becomes extremely difficult for the trucks to come in or go out”, he regretted.
On allegations that part of the cause of the congestion at most of the terminals both in Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports Complex, which many believe is due to poor logistics, he said: “It is not about equipment, it is all about a fucked-up port system occasioned by the lack of infrastructure.
While comparing the former management of the authority with the incumbent, he said: “You know the current managing director, Mallam Habib Abdullahi is a finance and administration person so he will take some time to learn, I do not blame him, but the former one, Mr. Oman Suleiman is an operations person and has been within the system for a long time and so he was faster at decisions”
On the way out of the quagmire, he advocated that the Federal Government should take urgent steps towards revamping the various port infrastructure such as roads, roundabouts and other basic infrastructure in order to engender the uninhibited movement of trucks and other vehicles within the port system. He was also of the strong view that efforts should be made by the government to check the existence of several government security agencies operating at the ports, who participate in the process of cargo delivery, arguing that they contribute to the worsening bureaucracy.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.