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NPA laments pressure of making remittances  to federation account as limiting factor to fund port infrastructure

Bello-Koko, NPA MD
—–pledges to drive  Nigeria’s quest for Africa’s maritime hub.
Eyewitness reporter
The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) has lamented the huge burden to meet remittances into the federation account as a factor that has limited its ability and capability to fund the reconstruction of some of the decaying port Infrastructure.
Making this observation at the just concluded retreat for the reconstituted Board of Directors of the NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Acting Managing Director of the agency, said the NPA has to think outside the box to source for alternative funding to meet some of the exigencies of port operations.
He said the agency is faced with monumental decaying port Infrastructure that needed to be fixed but limited with the paucity of funds.
“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.
” With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities, hence the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings” he stated.
According to him, “unlike the practice in our sister francophone countries where government funds dredging of ports, we are responsible for funding ours which put a lot of strain on our resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has reiterated its determination to leverage Nigeria’s status as Africa’s biggest economy to actualize the country’s maritime hub status in the region.
The Acting Managing Director said this feat would be achieved through investments in modern deep seaports that would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

Speaking on the new direction and measures being put in place to actualize the Authority’s aspirations, Bello- Koko explained that a lot has been done, especially in the last few months, to resolve most of the identified constraints to the efficient movement of cargoes to and from port locations.

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 percent 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 the development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of the

Emmanuel Adisoye

hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement which was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat, “To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa”, he said.

While describing the board retreat as very timely, he stated that it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision, where the executive management working closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate, embrace an all-inclusive strategic outcomes for the Authority with the requisite buy-in of the Board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the Board with regards to executive management’s limitations in actualizing some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat” he added.

The acting NPA Boss informed the Board that recent interventions made by the Authority has led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the port.

He however, explained that “some of the benchmarks we are yet to achieve are dependent on externalities and variables that require concerted inter-agency actions, which the Authority, despite dogged efforts, is yet to optimally achieve owing  to systemic administrative constraints and red tapism.
This he said,  include conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the port value chain and reporting to different supervising Ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplication of functions.

He further informed the board that concerted efforts are being made to expand the revenue streams of the Authority, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.

The NPA acting Managing Director disclosed that the Authority’s Management has began to explore smart ways to boost the revenue performance of the organization.

He explained that the Authority is blessed with prime real estate which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.

“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.

“Management will need the support of the Board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualize the lofty aspirations of the Authority” he posited.

He further said that the management has opened correspondences with some multilateral financial institutions like the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp), all part of plans to access long term low interest credit, for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

Bello-Koko also touched on efforts by the management to make Nigerian seaports more business friendly.

 In his words, “ we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor.
” A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos”

“The Authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lilypond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads and would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform”

He discosed that the authority was collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system.

According to him, other solutions being implemented is the push to link all seaports to the national rail network as well to optimize the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Currently, the Authority is streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

The acting Managing Director in his remarks equally acknowledged recent steps taken by the Ministry of Transportation and the Authority towards the timely execution of the new green-field deep seaport to be domiciled in Bonny, Rivers State.

The Bonny seaport project, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South South and South Eastern regions.

Meanwhile, on the South Western axis is the Lekki Deep Seaport which should be operational next year.

The two port projects will usher a new vista of economic prosperity and further consolidate the country’s status as gateway to the African economy, he noted.

Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the Board, Mr.Emmanuel Adesoye, described the retreat as an opportunity for the Board and Management “not just to rethink our strategies, structures and systems for effective service delivery, but also to unwind, reconnect and strengthen our bonds as team players committed to upholding excellence”, he remarked.

The Chairman called for clear and deliberate efforts by the NPA towards efficient operations, competitive and diversified export driven economy; a strong and incentive based system aligned with win-win relationships to enhance profitability and productivity for the concessionaires, NPA, and the Nigerian State; increase in alternative revenue streams; and effective collaboration based on transparency and constant communication with all relevant stakeholders across the port value chain.

The three day event, attended by all board members, attracted seasoned experts in port administration, strategic and creative thinking, stress management, among other relevant subjects.

Two former NPA’s Chief Executives namely Chief Adebayo Sarumi and Mr. Felix Ovbude, gave presentations on their experiences and ideas as port administrators.
Former General Manager Operations, Mr. Joshua Asanga gave a presentation on “Ways To Improve Port Operations Towards A World Class Port Administration”.

The retreat, which was held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had as it theme “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence”

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Headlines

IMO tasks Mobereola to sustain NIMASA’s leadership role in regional maritime industry

—– hails his appointment as DG
The Eyewitness Reporter
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has lauded the leadership role of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the maritime industry within the West African sub-region which it said has stabilized maritime administration in the region.
In his congratulatory letter to Dr. Dayo Mobereola, the new NIMASA DG, the Secretary General of IMO Arsenio Dominguez, observed with satisfaction the collaborative efforts of NIMASA that have brought relative peace to the troubled Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
He therefore charged Mobereola to sustain the tempo of activities that will keep the momentum going in the areas of safety, security and building of strong maritime institutions.
In a conveyance letter personally signed by him, the IMO Secretary-General recognized the strides of the Agency in building a robust maritime sector in Nigeria, adding that the IMO commends the significant effort, initiatives, and investment that Nigeria has made in strengthening its maritime institutions.

In the words of Dominguez, “The focus on strengthening maritime law enforcement and security architecture has been welcomed by seafarers and flag States.

“The Deep Blue project and the C4i Centre as well as maritime piracy laws under the SPOMO Act are just some of the many investments that have set a new gold standard in the region in maritime security capacity building”.

“IMO has long supported the regional role of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and its Member States in strengthening maritime security and law enforcement.

” In this respect, we have been greatly encouraged with the continuation of this regional ownership with the formation and work of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction (GoG-MCF/SHADE) in 2021”.

He commended the Agency’s partnership with the various regional bodies and expressed the readiness of the IMO to work with Nigeria and other member states on many maritime issues with the aim of jointly tackling these issues.

“NIMASA’s partnership with the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) and the collaboration with the shipping industry, navies and the Yaoundé architecture has been instrumental in suppressing the threat of piracy to merchant vessels and seafarers in line with UN Security Council resolution 2634 (2022) on piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea and IMO Assembly resolution A.1159 (32)”.

” I look forward to working with you and your colleagues on many of the maritime issues that we are jointly tackling and hope to welcome you in person at the IMO, he said.

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Headlines

Eastern shippers, freight forwarders on collision course with Shippers’ Council over increase in haulage rate

Akutah Pius Ukeyima, ES, NSC
The Eyewitness Reporter
Importers, Exporters and freight forwarders playing their trade in the South East region of the country have rejected the recent 200 percent hike in haulage rate by the Nigerian Shippers’Council.
They described the increase as “outrageous, arbitrary, and unacceptable.”
In a press conference called by the aggrieved shippers in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, they claimed that if the hike was not reversed, it would bring them on a collision course with the Shippers’ Council.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the aggrieved group, Joshua Ahuama, Zonal Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licenced Agents (ANLCA), claimed that the rate will not only lead to spiral inflation but also in contravention of the provisions of the NSC Act.
He disclosed that the group shall give the Shippers’Council a seven-day ultimatum to reverse to status quo or face withdrawal of their services at the Eastern ports.
He accused the council of not consulting concerned stakeholders before arriving at the decision, saying consultations are an integral part of the NSC Act.
 “Recently, the NSC approved a 200 percent increment in haulage rate for transport owners and drivers operating under the Maritime Union of Nigeria.
“To this end, importers and freight forwarders associations in the eastern zone have unanimously disputed the new rate because it is outrageous, arbitrary, and unacceptable to all stakeholders in the zone.
“We have, however, resolved to adopt all peaceful efforts. We started this move on March 14 by calling on the NSC to ensure proper stakeholder engagement and renegotiation.

” These measures are also expected to help all parties to reach a benchmark that would be in the interest of all stakeholders in the maritime value chain,” Ahuama noted.

 “We also urge the NSC to return to the status quo by suspending the implementation of the disputed rate, pending proper renegotiation covering the interest of all stakeholders.

“We are not on a selfish course. Our demands are in the interest of Nigerians because any slight increase in the haulage rate will reflect on the prices of goods in the open market.

“A businessman incorporates total logistic costs into the prices of goods.”

However, the group said they might be constrained to take drastic measures, including suspending all declarations of goods and payments of customs duties, which could negatively affect national revenue and economic output.

Some members of the import and export associations present at the meeting included the Nigeria Shippers Association, the Aba International Traders Association, the Ultimate Importers Association, the POP Importers Association, the Nnewi Importers Association, and the Onitsha Importers Association.

However, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has said that the new approved rate took into consideration the cost, moderation and other cargo transport issues.
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Customs

Performance of Apapa Customs scanning officers excites Comptroller Jaiyeoba

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Area Controller of Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba has lauded the uncompromising attitude of the officers of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology Unit (NIITU) which he said has been invaluable to the overall success of the command.
Comptroller Jaiyeoba, who was on an unscheduled visit to the scanner site, reminded the officers of the importance of teamwork as a strong basis to sustain the gains of compliance and revenue collection recently recorded by the command.
He thanked Deputy Comptroller Salamatu Atuluku, the Officer in charge of the scanning site and encouraged the unit not to be deterred by complaints coming from persons who were made to pay accurate duties to the government after issuance of demand notices
According to him, no business person who is made to part with money will be happy with officers who refused to compromise the ethics of their job
” The main reason for me coming here is to appreciate you. I may not see you but I have seen your work and I won’t keep quiet about what I have seen about your work.
“You are doing very well. I just want to encourage you to work as a team. If you don’t work as a team, you give room for outsiders to come in and when they come in, they divide you and when they divide you,  achieving success will be very difficult
” Do your work without blemish. Once you keep your arm straight, you can stand before anybody. Your work as a customs officer is to ensure that you do the correct thing
” For those of you doing an intervention in the form of Demand Notice(DN), there is no body who part with money that will be happy with you.
“They will want to play intelligent by hiding somewhere. When you fetch them from their hiding place, they become your enemy. Whatever they write about anybody here will still come down to me and if anybody works well, the onus on me is to defend such a person.
“Just have it at the back of your mind that you owe yourself the duty of doing your work diligently whether anyone comes around as a friend or enemy.
“It is not enough for you to rest. The reward for hard work is more work. These demands require sacrifice so that you can maintain the status” he said.
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