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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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Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison

The Eyewitness reporter

A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.

As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.

The following month, it intervened in an alleged attack on a commercial vessel, killing four pirates and capturing four other suspects.

“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.

Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.

 Danish authorities deemed it unsafe to release him in Ghana. His leg was amputated as a result of his injuries.

Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.

Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.

They were released from detention on the frigate and put to sea in a small dinghy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.

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Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo


— as government shifts resumption of Abuja-Kaduna rail services to December
The Eyewitness reporter
As part of the multi-layer security measures put in place on the troubled Abuja-Kaduna train route, the federal government has announced that no passenger will be allowed to buy tickets for train services without a National Identification Number (NIN).
In addition, no minor will be allowed onboard unless registered by an adult with a NIN who cannot register more than four minors per trip.
Reviewing the security measures put in place ahead of the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train route, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, said these and other security initiatives which the government has taken are necessary to forestall the reoccurrence of the sad event which occurred on March 28th, 2022 on the route when the train was derailed by insurgents who killed and kidnapped passengers.
The minister, who on Sunday at Kaduna expressed satisfaction over the level of security measures in place, also said the steps taken so far will also stop ticket racketeering which has been the order of the day among the railway staff on the route.
The Minister also expressed confidence that the measures put in place are adequate enough for the train service to commence.” There is sensitive equipment that we have deployed that I will not reveal. The other thing I can tell you is that for every journey, the train is monitored every second on the screen.

” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.

The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.

“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.

“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.

“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.

“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.

“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.

Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.

“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”

We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.

“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.

The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.

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As Nigerdock recants operational breaches, FG may lift suspension on the facility

The Eyewitness reporter
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to lift the suspension order on Nigerdock following its willingness to abide by the rules and its contributions to the growth of the National economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, stated this recently when he visited the firm in Lagos in the company of the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and some Management Staff of the Ministry.
Addressing the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani and other officials of the company, the Minister pointed out that the reason why they were suspended was as a result of complaints from other Terminal Operators, saying Nigerdock had operating advantages over them.
“What led to your suspension was that I received complaints from Terminal Operators, saying that you are not on the same level with them. In the sense that they pay more to the government than you do. You’re likely to attract freight at a much lower cost to the detriment of businesses”,  the Minister disclosed.
He, therefore, urged them to liaise with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to work out all the operational licenses needed to enable them to operate and the latter will forward the same to the Minister of Transportation whose prerogative it is to give approvals.
Speaking further, the Minister said: “We will never do anything to undermine the things you are doing here in terms of generating wealth and jobs for Nigerians.  The only thing we are saying is that the law should be followed. We should not encourage lawlessness “.
Responding, the CEO, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, said the firm has taken notable steps in this regard as they have been granted bonded permits by the Nigerian Customs and they are currently working with Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure all processes of getting the needed approvals are followed accordingly.
“We are seeking your support Honourable Minister and that is why we wrote a letter of appeal for your guidance and your support to see that we have followed all processes and procedures” Jarmakani stated.
Furthermore, Jarmakani informed the Minister that in the 30 years of its existence, Nigerdock has employed more Nigerians than its peers, assuring that the company will not undermine the country’s extant rules and regulations.
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