Top government officials and other industry stakeholders, who took turns to appraise the performance of the nation’s seaport, have commended the private terminal operators for improving the fortunes of the various terminals that was concessioned to them by the federal government in 2006.
Speaking at a one-day conference on the review of port concession agreement organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in conjunction with the International Maritime Exhibition and Conference (IMEC), Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of House of Representatives, who applauded the port concessionaires for their role in making the port more effective and efficient through infrastructure development, also described the nine years of port concession as a huge success. Listing some of the notable achievements, the speaker, who was represented by the deputy chief Whip, Pally Iriase, said terminal operators have recorded improvement on the seaside operation which has drastically reduced the vessel turnaround time, carried out perimeter fencing of all the terminals in compliance with the ISPS Code and improved security of cargoes at terminals among others.
Dogara, who stated that maritime sector is critical to achieving successful economic growth, charged agencies to utilise automation for cargo clearance, enhance cargo examination processes while government rehabilitate the port access roads. “The maritime sector constitutes a major component of the nation’s economy considering the fact that Nigerian is an import dependent economy.”
Benjamin Dikki, director general of Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), affirmed that the positive impact of port concession cannot be overemphasised. “Anybody who saw the port in 2006 and goes round the port today will know that the concessionaires have made investment that ordinarily government cannot make from budgetary allocations,” he said.
Dikki noted that the identified challenges in the concession agreement were as a result of the delay in the passage of the Ports and Harbours bill. “The concessionaires have made investments but there are issues which arouse principally because owing to lack of regulations,” he said.
He called on stakeholders to join hands and ensure that the Ports and Harbours bill is expeditiously passed in order to have a permanent port regulator who will ensure that the full benefits of the port concession are achieved. “This is because it is government’s desire that ports become more competitive and a preferred destination for shippers.”
On his part, Sanni Danlagashi, director, Maritime Services of the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) also commended the concessionaires for the quality services rendered by terminal operators at the port.
In his welcome address, Hassan Bello, executive secretary of NSC called for the periodic review of concession agreement especially with all the parties represented. “It is the parties who will look at the problems, their experiences and suggest ways of reviewing.”