The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, said it has identified key areas in the Eastern port that would need urgent rehabilitation for ease of trade facilitation.
Officials of the Authority informed visiting Senate Committee members on Marine Transport on oversight function that after 103 years of the life of the Eastern ports, there was the urgent need for a total rehabilitation of decaying facilities.
NPA’s General Manager, Eastern Ports, Alhaji Abdullahi Goje, said the state of the infrastructure was affecting ports operation.
While identifying areas where the NPA needs to carry out rehabilitation, Abdullahi blamed the terminal operators for failing to invest in developing infrastructures as contained in the ports concession agreement,
He said that the poor infrastructures in the ports calls for a review of the ports concession agreement for most of the concessioned ports in the Eastern ports, including Port Harcourt ports.
He identified Eastern Ports Headquarters of the NPA in Port Harcourt as requiring urgent rehabilitation to a befitting status as captured in next year’s budget.
He also identified berths 5,6,7 and 8 concessioned to BUA Terminal in Port Harcourt as equally requiring urgent rehabilitation.
Other areas which need rehabilitation, he said, include Abonema Marine Police jetty, Port Harcourt, perimeter fencing and rehabilitation of the Bonny Radio/Signal Station, capital and regular maintenance dredging of the three pilotage districts.
Goje also said installation of modern electronics system in all the Port locations to discourage unnecessary and unwanted movements to and from the terminals and jetties was very important.
He called for a review of the GMT and lease agreements, arguing that most of the private terminal operators were not working in tandem with the federal government expectations in the port reform exercise.
He told the senators that the NPA should be allowed the full control of monitoring of the private jetties in terms of their operations by installing some of the flow meters before issuing them with appropriate licences.
He also disclosed that NPA has only one operational tug boat, adding that the second one was not functioning, and therefore stressed the need for additional boat for operational convenience.
Similarly, the Port Harcourt port, he added, has only one aged pilot cutter which is currently out of commission, stating that the two additional pilot cutters were needed.
Goje said the Authority would need the support of the Senators to be able to address some of the problems beginning from 2017 budget.
Describing the infrastructure issues as a kind of bondage, Goje told the senators, “one of the ways to come out of such bondage is to key into the 2017 budget and even beyond so that the authority moves from strength to strength, instead of suffering a lot of neglect like in the recent past administrations”.
The Senate Committee Chairman in response told said the main purpose for embarking on the one week tour of the ports was to know the progress made by the NPA, terminal operators and other agencies, including their challenges.
He said the Committee would ensure that nothing stands on the way of government realizing enough revenue from the ports.
Senator Sani expressed regret over the failure of the terminal operators in keeping with the obligations as signed in the concession agreement.
He said that eventhough the concession agreement is supposed to be reviewed every two years, this is not being done.
“They have not done review for the past 10 years since they entered. They don’t even do some of the obligations they are supposed to do. So we have the powers to call for cancellation of any agreement that is not performing”, he said.