Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman has revealed that the Nigeria Customs Service would soon commence the auctioning of all overtime cargoes immediately inside the port terminals.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the marina headquarters of NPA by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Hadiza said that the Ikorodu lighter terminal is already congested and can no longer accommodate overtime cargoes.
The NPA boss also cleared that the contract for the construction of Badagry Deep Seaport has not been cancelled as erroneously reported.
She said NPA has provided the necessary approval for Lekki Deep Seaport to commence, and that the construction of the breakwaters has since commenced.
According to her, the contractor for the Lekki port, China Harbour Company has equally acquired major stakes in the project to become a stakeholder.
Hadiza also assured that the auctioning of overtime cargoes at Nigerian ports would now be done “on the spot” by the Nigeria Customs service.
On the auctioning of overtime cargoes, Hadiza said “We have asked Customs to auction the cargoes inside the ports as it were, because the Ikorodu warehouse is already full, the last time auction was done was in 2015”
“We have told the Customs that there is need to auction cargoes on the spot because the ports is already congested”
Speaking on the reported cancellation of the Badagry Deep Seaport, ahe said “Everyone is quick to remember the cancellation, but no one wants to remember that it was not cancelled, the journalist that did the interview corrected it the next day where it was explained that we were reported wrongly”
“I would like to say that the Badagry Deep seaport project has not been cancelled as was reported”
“NPA is mindful of the fact that deep seaports are needed, we provided the necessary approval for Lekki Deep Seaport to commence, they have started the construction of the breakwaters, and finally they are reaching financial closure in September to enable them pool through the specified development within the specified timeline”
“China Harbour has become a shareholder and also the contractor, the GMD of the company is here in Nigeria inspecting the project this week, and he is going to meet with members of NPA on Friday to sort of affirm the commitment of China Harbour and meeting its obligation on Lekki Deep Seaport”
“The Badagry deep seaports have not been cancelled, we are going to proceed with discussions with the proponents, there are highlighted concerns which we have notified the ministry”
The NPA boss rejected the request by NAGAFF to be a part of the review of port concession exercise in Nigeria.
Speaking, she said “There is an issue of review of the concession agreement and the need for NAGAFF to participate in the review, as they have said in several forum, the aspects of the concession agreement are confidential between the Nigerian Ports and the concessionaires, so we cannot reveal these negotiations with stakeholders”
“There are aspects that stakeholders are concerned and these aspects would be discussed with them at the appropriate time. The confidentiality clause does not permit us to disclose certain components of the agreement”
“We have reached quite an advanced stage in discussing with each of the concessionaires on the certain aspects of the agreement, we have the individual section with terminal operators”
Speaking on the review, she said the Federal government has certain obligations and terminal operators also has obligations.
She said there is going to be sanctions on both sides for any party lagging behind.
Earlier, in his address, President of NAGAFF, Increase Uche, highlighted some of the barriers impeding port efficiency, including high cost of doing business at the port, which he noted was affecting operations of freight forwarders.
“The way the port is going currently is becoming unattractive to shippers that patronage keep going down.
“We want all those hindrances, the barriers that keep impeding the growth and productivity of the port and the high cost of doing business be looked into because we are the ones bearing the brunt.
Trade must be facilitated and the port must be seen to be efficient. Transport efficiency too must be combined especially, as Nigeria has just signed the Africa Continental Free trade Agreement (AfCFTA),” he said.