Not less than N123 billion has been invested by private terminal operators in the past five years into the nation’s seaports, it was gathered.
The terminal operators took over the day-to-day running of the nation’s seaports from the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in 2006, following the economic reforms programme initiated by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, which led to the concession of the terminals.
Managing Director of NPA, Mr. Omar Suleiman, who disclosed this to members of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Investigation of the Privatisation and Commercialisation Activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, said that port concession has greatly improved operations at the ports.
According to the NPA boss, the concessionaires of the nation’s seaports have so far invested $822 million (or N123.3 billion) in developing their various terminals across the country. The private terminal operators have also, in the last five years, increased cargo throughput at the ports.
On employment, he said that the number of employees at the ports have remained almost the same with the employment level pre-port concession. He identified the absence of a commercial regulator and the presence of multiple government agencies at the ports as major challenges confronting prompt cargo clearance.
He said that the private terminal operators have greatly improved service delivery at the ports, a position corroborated by the Director General of BPE, Ms. Bola Onagoruwa.
The committee's public hearing was attended by the various terminal operators and the management of NPA.
THISDAY recalled that since 2006, operations at a number of terminals at Nigerian seaports were taken over from the NPA, under concession agreements ranging from 10 to 25 years, as part of the prevailing reforms of the nation’s ports.
With the adoption of a landlord model in operation at the nation’s ports, the NPA retains responsibility for executing marine and technical services, while being divested of its former cargo handling and other terminal duties, which now rest on the respective private terminal operators.
Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Investigation of the Privatisation and Commercialisation Activities of BPE expressed satisfaction with the performance of most of the private terminal operators at the ports.
Chairman of the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee, Senator Ahmad Lawan, commended the performance of the terminal operators so far, even as he charged them to keep up with their investment drive.