By Eromosele Abiodun
In a bid to ensure a healthy competition among existing ports and the ongoing Lekki Deep Sea Port and Badagry Deep Sea Ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is developing a ports master plan to be unveiled in the next six months.
Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman disclosed this in her speech at the World Maritime Day Celebration held in Lagos.
Bala Usman noted that the existing model where port development was not well thought out will see the ports compete each other out of business; a situation she said would be bad for the industry.
She said: “One of the important things that I have felt the need to institute is the port development master plan, a 25 years master plan, which will guide the development of ports I the country. We have commenced that activity at the NPA. I met on ground a development master plan for individual port in the NPA but I felt the need to have a holistic master plan which guides all such port development. That way we will not have over laps and have ports that will be competing with each other and compete each other out of business.
She added: “We need to have a clear plan and structure with which port development plan s are approved. We have the Lekki Deep Sea Port approval currently going on in Lagos state, we have the Badagry Deep Sea Port and we have Tincan and Apapa ports. We need to have the respective scope with which these ports will operate to ensure that capacity utilisation in terms of capacity is addressed as we approve such port development. So having a master plan, a clear vision of port development is critical and the NPA is leading that. Within the next six months we will come out with a port development master plan which we will unveil to stakeholders before we get the necessary approval.”
On port capacity utilisation and its current capacity, she said: “I think what we need to understand is that as we approve and as we present respective port development, we need to understand and assess what we have now on capacity utilisation. Has it been utilised fully? We need to look at clusters of port development to determine the competition as we approve them. We have to determine if indeed what we have would be able to accommodate the need for expansion and traffic to come into the country.
“We have noted the period were the deployment has been made and we have identified need to build on the existing infrastructure. Right now we have commissioned our staff to go around all of our ports to determine the level of decay of our infrastructure. Primarily, I have given the clear directive that all our budgetary provisions will be tied to infrastructure that will add revenue to the Nigerian Ports Authority. Indeed our focus is to see that our degenerated infrastructure is built upon and expanded to take on need for the Nigerian port to have expansive capacity to take on additional traffic.”
Speaking on the plan to review port concession agreement, she said as someone who worked at the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), she understands the need for private sector to lead in the investment and development of the ports in the country.
“I met on ground concessions that have been 10 years in operation and I believe that it is time for us to have a review. The concessionnaires themselves believe that it is time to look at some of its terms. The economic situation in which some of the concession agreements were entered into are not the same today. There are clear assumptions that were made within those initial concessions that are different now. There are also respective obligation across both parties that have not been met within the 10 years has not been met. I think it’s time for both parties to seat around the tale and review those terms to determine what obtains today.
“We have noted the operators have development plans that they have not adhere to during the concession period, we have noted that the authority itself has not committed to some of the obligations that were stipulated in the concession. As we go through the review of the concession, both parties need to confirm and commit to their part of the agreements. We will ensure sanctions and penalties for not compliance across the board, both the authorities and the operators, going forward we will ensure that there is a level playing field for all operators.
“Within the concession agreement, everyone can confirm that there was need for a review within two years but we have waited 10 years for a holistic review of the concession agreement. We have also noted the few review in view of tenor elongations without a commensurate review of the financing model, which are tied to each other. Whatever timelines you have for the revision period is tied to the financing model and a tariff regime which is contained within the concession agreement, “he said.