By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman has hinted that the agency might disuse the Port Harcourt due to the fact that the port is old and can no longer accommodate any further development.
The Port Harcourt port is located in Rivers State and comprises various jetties including Okrika Refined Petroleum Oil Jetty, Haastrup/Eagle Bulk Cement Jetty, Kidney Island Jetty, Ibeto Jetty, Macobar Jetty and Bitumen Jetty.
Management of port operations at Port Harcourt itself has been commissioned out to two terminaloperators, Ports and Terminal Operators Limited (PTOL) and BUA Ports and Terminal.
The NPA boss stated this when she appeared as a guest on a programme on Traffic Radio last week.
She announced that the agency had equally announced a discount in harbour dues for all vessels calling at the Eastern ports as a way of encouraging patronage to these ports and easing congestion on Lagos ports.
“Port Harcourt port has reached the end of its lifespan, the port cannot accommodate any other improvements”
“We are promoting utilisation of the eastern ports of Calabar, Onne, Port Harcourt and Warri Ports, we have noted the concerns of the Shippers, Calabar has draft limitations, so we have encouraged flat bottom vessels to berth at Calabar port we have also offered discount in harbour dues which has improved the port.
The same way we have given discount in harbour dues to vessels berthing at other eastern ports”
“We are improving on our towage services to ensure vessels arrive at port successfully” she stated
Hadiza lamented that the traffic congestion at the Apapa port of Lagos has been a major challenge to her administration in the past four years. She said there are entrenched interests benefitting from the Apapa gridlock and that NPA security officials at the port are complicit.
She however assured that the agency is coming up with the electronic call-up system which would be a solution and a game changer.
“There are entrenched interests benefitting from the Apapa gridlock, we have asked people to make reports on any NPA security making money from that area to help people fly their trucks”
“When you see a situation that has defiled all solutions like that, it simply means that there are people benefitting from it, this is why we have developed the electronic intervention because human intervention could be compromised”
“The electronic call up system would be first come, first serve basis for those who make use of the ETO application”
“The challenge has also been lack of designated truck parks, this is why trucks park on port access roads, so we have created truck parks.
We called on people with truck parks to apply if they have met the minimum requirements, we were able to come up with seven approved truck parks”
“The importer clicks on any truck park closer to him. Any truck not given clearance would not be allowed to go near the port.
Each of the truck parks must have 3,000 truck capacity, trucks coming from the North would not be allowed to drive straight into the port”
We have also said that consignees should stop taking empty containers to the port, they should drop it at shipping companies holding bay, the shipping companies have been collecting millions from the importers in this regard, even though it is their duty to return their empties to the port from their approved holding bays”
“We have made it very clear to them in an engagement, we have even told them since 2019” she stated
The NPA boss also said the agency has recently concluded a review of the concession agreement with terminal operators to ensure clarity in obligations
According to her, “If government is lagging behind, it would be sanctioned, if government is supposed to dredge your quay side and they didn’t, they would get less revenue, and if you as a concessionaire is supposed to build a warehouse but you failed or to provide equipment, you would be penalised”
“We have gone a long way, we are at a point whereby we sign the suplementals which would ensure compliance on both sides”
“We have done our bit to ensure that the channels are safe, we have removed the wrecks, our pilots navigate safely to bring the vessels to the port. But it now depends on the terminal operators to efficiently remove the boxes from the ships”
“The inspection of the cargoes at the port by the Nigeria Customs Service has been a challenge, we do physical inspections at the port and this has been a challenge, there are no scanners at the port”
She assured that the NPA is partnering the customs to ensure that new scanners are fixed at the ports before the end of the year.