Nigeria Set to Entrench its weight as Africa’s Maritime Hub -NPA MD
*Seeks improved synergy from other Agencies for Cost Efficient Port Services
By Frank Odinukaeze
Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko has declared the readiness of the Authority to leverage Nigeria’s status as Africa’s biggest economy to actualize the country’s maritime hub status in the region, through investments in modern deep seaports that would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.
Bello-Koko gave this hint at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of Directors of the Authority, with the theme “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence” which ended last weekend in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
Speaking on the new direction and measures being put in place to actualize the Authority’s aspirations, the NPA acting Managing Director explained that a lot has been done, especially in the last few months to resolve most of the identified constraints to efficient movement of cargoes to and from port locations.
“Nigeria accounts for about 70 percent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.
The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement which was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat, “To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa”, he said.
He described the board retreat as very timely, stressing that it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision, where the executive management working closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate, embrace an all-inclusive strategic outcomes for the Authority with the requisite buy-in of the Board.
“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the Board with regards to executive management’s limitations in actualizing some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat” he added.
The acting NPA Boss informed the Board that recent interventions made by the Authority has led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the port. He however, explained that “some of the benchmarks we are yet to achieve are dependent on externalities and variables that require concerted inter-agency actions, which the Authority, despite dogged efforts is yet to optimally achieve owing to systemic administrative constraints and red tapism, including conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the port value chain and reporting to different supervising Ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplication of functions”, he stressed.
He further informed the Board that concerted efforts are being made to expand the revenue streams of the Authority, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations. According to him, “unlike the practice in our sister francophone countries where government funds dredging of ports, we are responsible for funding ours which put a lot of strain on our resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.
“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example sections of the quay aprons or walls at Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them. With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities, hence the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings” he stated.