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NPA may grant 30 percent tariff relief to terminal operators at Rivers ports to drive traffic

Bello-Koko, NPA MD, seeking clarification on some matters of interest.
Eyewitness reporter
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is tinkering with the proposal to give a whooping 30 percent tariff rebate to the terminal operators at the Rivers ports to boost the dwindling traffic.
The move was part of the multi-pronged approach of the agency to attract vessel and cargo traffic to the Eastern ports.
The latest move was after a similar concession of a 10 percent rebate granted by the agency to the operators in the area failed to yield the desired result as vessels continued to shun the ports.
Making the revelation in Port Harcourt Thursday was the Managing Director of the NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, while on the tour of the Eastern ports.
Bello- Koko, while talking to journalists on the sideline of the tour, said the authority was already considering the proposal for a 30 percent tariff rebate being sought by the terminal operators operating at the Port.
He however warned that such relief would not be automatic but conditional.
The NPA MD said that such a request will be based on the commensurate impact it will have on cargo and vessel traffic.
He declared that a similar tariff rebate has been granted in the past without much impact on the traffic to the ports.
“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 percent rebate but we need to understand that we don’t just give a rebate without some conditions.
“We seat down with them, those discussions have started, we give them the conditions based on the tariff relief.
“It might be lower or higher than 30 percent.
“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” the NPA MD said.
He also said that he was in 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.
”One of the operators,  which is PTOL, has a development plan which involves bringing down some of the sheds, removing stacking areas, thereby creating more space to handle more cargo.
“We came to look at that and to discuss further with them.
” They have some collapsed berths and we are discussing how to rehabilitate that so that we have more vessels to berth at this port”
He however expressed dissatisfaction with BUA for its slow pace of work on the rehabilitation project, having been granted approval by the NPA to commence work on the collapsed quays in their terminal.
“We also looked at the BUA part of the berth and I think we have berths 5-8 that have collapsed.
“Some of these berths were built in the 1920s and they have really decayed and we should have decommissioned some of them.
“The agreement is for BUA to reconstruct some of those berths.
” We have given them approval for the final design which the company has submitted and we expect construction should resume very soon.
“The company knows how dissatisfied we are with the speed at which they are carrying on these repairs.
“We have expected that the reconstruction should have started a few months ago, but it hadn’t.
“We understand the need to plan properly and that planning is over and we expect they should resume reconstruction on those berths.
“We also came to look at the dockyard.
The dockyard is necessary and an important part of the port where you dock and service vessels, but you can see it is dilapidated.
“We are thinking on what to do either to find private investors to invest in the dockyard or the NPA to take up that responsibility, to repair the finger jetty and get the berth to work.
“So we have come to the Eastern ports because we are very serious about the need to increase vessel and cargo traffic.
“That way, we would be able to decongest the ports in Lagos.
“On the need to attract importers to the Eastern ports, we have said this so many times, the decision where the cargo will be delivered and evacuated is that of the consignee.
” The consignee decides the port of discharge for his cargo.
“We are doing all we can to encourage them to bring in their cargo to the Eastern ports.
“We are working on probably to review the tariffs, properly to give them tariff relief that will trickle down to the importers that will encourage them to bring in their cargo to the Eastern ports.
“Most of the ports in the East, their problem is the draught of the channel and that is what we are looking at.
“It is not just to reconstruct the quays, we also need to dredge deeper so that bigger vessels can come in and the economy of scale will set in and then you will be able to bring in those vessels to berth.
“We are beginning to see increased activities in Onne and we are happy to see what is going on in Onne.
” I can’t give you figures on the cost implications of these reconstruction works to NPA.
” We have interim surveys that are being carried out. We know the channels are very long so we need to determine what draught of the channel we need to achieve.
“The entrance is about 9.5 meters, there are places that are over 12, 14 meters and in some locations, they are about 9.5 meters.
“We are going to look at the survey plans of the channels and then determine what is the achievable draught and start working on the dredging”

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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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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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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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