By DAPO OLAWUNI
Workers of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) have raised an alarm that, due to the poor electricity supply around the country, the naions ports are running permanently on generators, while each port location consumes about 800liters if diesel daily.
This according to the union is consuming the scarce resources and revenue of the NPA as an Agency, and even the terminal operators.
At the prevailing market price of N1,270 per liter, this is about N1,016,000 daily being spent by NPA alone. DAILY TREND gathered that apart from NPA, port terminal operators also run their various terminals permanently on diesel to power equipments, offices and this runs into several millions on daily basis, at a cost higher than that of NPA.
At a joint press conference addressed by the President of SSASCGOC, Comrade Akinola Bodunde and his counterpart at the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, the workers lamented that vessels were no longer calling at Nigerian Ports for the agency to generate the needed revenue.
The unions made a case for the Federal Government to discontinue the Automatic 50percent deduction from NPA internally generated revenue, saying that the policy is affecting sustainability of the agency.
Comrade Bodunde stated that “We know that our ports and all port locations run on generator permanently, and we all know the price of diesel today, of all the generators inside the port, there is none lesser than 1,000KVA, if you want to run one of this type of generator in one day, you would be buying about 2-4drums which is about 800liters per day.
“If it were to be a production company, NPA must have close down shop for about one year now because the situation is terrible. The Federal Government is only interested in us bringing money, but when we are bringing the money, some of the policies are affecting operations of the port”
The workers also lamented the drastic reduction in the number of RoRo vessels calling at the port.
Comrade Bodunde noted that the payment of levy on imported used cars have driven away vehicle importers from Nigerian port.
“Go to the ports and Roro Terminals, ships are not coming again, we launched the biggest car carrier about a month ago, the vessel supposed to carry about 5,000 cars, but it came with just 200 cars, this is because, in the past, we don’t pay levy on used cars, we only pay levy on brand-new cars in order to encourage local production. But presently, government is collecting levy on used cars.
“Don’t be surprised that if you are going for a 2006 Toyota Corolla, you need about almost N2.5milion to clear it, because you pay N1.2million for Duty and another M1.2million for levy, and that levy was originally for brand-new cars, this is the main reason why importers are no longer importing.
“To clear a 40foot container today is about N15million, how many people have that kind of money to bring in containers? And the government still want us to generate revenue.
“How to make the N500billion is only by the grace of God, because if you look at the present situation on ground, vessels are no longer coming into Nigeria.
Every year, we have a budget in NPA and we monitor it in the union, we know the provisions in terms of capital and overhead cost, 60% of the budget goes for capital projects, and these include the rehabilitation of the port, the Quay Aprons and the electricity.
“The issue of Customs Duty, the exchange rate, NPA are the major people suffering from the customs duty and the exchange rate, how do you want us to generate revenue. Go to the ports today, the port is scanty.
“If the policies are okay, NPA can generate money and feed this country, but some of the policies are the problems the sector is facing, until this is fixed, we cannot go anywhere. Upon all these anomalies, the government still want to collect 50% from our revenue, leaving us with the other 50% to service the port and run overhead cost, this is why the union is shouting now.
“The government and the agencies at the port are losing money today because ships are being diverted to other African countries, it is when ships come in that we can collect revenue.
“Failure of government to listen to us, we would withdraw our members from the port” he warned
On his part, the MWUN President General and Deputy National President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju insisted that the port terminal operators also have a role to play in port maintenance.
“Terminal operators have been given opportunities to run the port on behalf of the Federal Government, they also have a role to play but most of them are not playing it, the port is so dilapidated today and they are not doing anything about it.
“As a Union, we want President Bola Tinubu to wade into this matter now because the union is coming all out” he said