By Eromosele Abiodun
There are indications that the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) may impose sanctions against terminal operators at the nation’s ports for allegedly violating concession agreement as regards port development.
THISDAY gathered that in fighting among the operators is hampering development of ports facilities and revenue generation for the federal government.
Sources at the NPA also told THISDAY that the terminal operators are indebted to the Authority to the tune of several millions of dollars, adding the NPA will soon commence aggressive collection of the debt and may also insist the debt be paid in foreign currency.
The terminal operators were also accused of converted loading bays and trailer garages that were concessioned out to other uses, leaving the trailer drivers with no other choice than to park on the road.
Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman confirmed this to THISDAY in an interview during her tour of Tincan Island Terminals last week.
Specifically, she said: “We have had discussions with the terminal operators around critical areas such as port development that they have not complied to. I have raised that with them. I have also made them to understand that the outstanding fees that they are supposed to pay should be paid because we are aggressively going to pursue all debtors. Indeed there are concerns that we have to discuss. We have also realised that there is a need to review the port concession agreements to address some of the issues.”
While reinstating that the concession agreement would soon be reviewed, the NPA boss said the issue of holding bays that were concessioned might not be within the port complex, stressing that there is need for the holding bays to be outside the ports.
That way, she said, the NPA can regulate the traffic going into the ports complex.
“We will holistically review this and determine what it is that is applicable as it relates to holding bays inside the port complex and also outside. Indeed the NPA has premises as we have sighted now, there are locations that are owned by the NPA that can be used to provide such services at commercial rate where users can pay a limited amount to keep their trucks pending when they are called upon to come and collect their cargo.”
Recently, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), had accused the NPA, terminal operators and shipping companies of conniving to deny the federal government of the much needed revenue from the ports through under declaration of tonnages.
President-General of the union, Tony Nted stated this in a chat with journalists, decrying the state of the industry in Lagos.
To sustain the revenue leakage, he said the shipping companies and terminal operators have impressed it on NPA to ensure sacked dockworkers such as Tally Clerks and Onbaord Security Men are not recalled in spite of their importance and relevance in the port operation.
He said the absence of Tally Clerks and Onboard Security men were responsible for the reoccurring scourge of tonnage under declaration and its negative impact on the nation’s economy.
“The leakage of revenue through under declaration of tonnage should be seriously tackled. In this regard, we reiterate that the Tally Clerks and Onboard Security Men should be reinstated to continue the critical job of uncovering and discouraging under declaration of tonnage which is often done with unholy collaboration of NPA, shipping companies/agents and terminal operators,” he said.