One of the investors in the development of deep seaports in the country, Mr. Victor Akpanika has called for the full participation of the private sector to ensure that Nigerians derive maximum benefits from the projects.
In a memorandum to the Senate Committee on Marine Transport for the Amendment of the National Inland Waters Authority (NIWA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act, Akpanika drew the attention to some of the anomalies in the system that need to be address by the authorities.
According to Akpanika who is the Managing Director of Port Notel Limited, the promoter of the Port Nortel Deep Seaport in the Akwa Ibom State, there was need to promote private sector full participation in ports development, ownership and operations in the country in place of the current Act that grants the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) the exclusive rights and authority to own and develop ports as landlord port owner, while at the same time acting as technical and commercial regulator of the maritime industry.
He argued that the policy stifles the growth and profitable development of this vital sector of our economy.
He explained that this does not only lead to over bearing bureaucratic interference, lack of probity and the absence of competition amongst the various ports, but also give room for insufficient funding to build capacity.
In the same vein, he added, this contends with wide spread globalization and trade liberalisation, that is forcing businesses and shipping companies to move towards countries with modern ports infrastructure, providing cost effective and efficient shipping services.
Continuing, he said: “Full scale privatization rather than the current partial privatization of the maritime transport sector, will liberate us from these ills and yield huge revenue to the benefits of the Federal Government. If properly managed as was the case in the telecommunication and power Sectors, it would attract various serious and financially solvent players. This, in a nutshell, would free the government from heavy financial burden. It will create employment opportunities for our teaming youth population”.
According to him, the Port Notel position is based on eight years field experience in promoting the development of a Greenfield deep sea port, off the Atlantic Coast of Ibeno Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State. During our interactive sessions, in and outside the country, with various stakeholders, we gained more understanding of the issues militating against active foreign participation in developing Greenfield deep sea port projects in Nigeria.
note that in the last ten years, since the privatization exercise took effect, there has been a little or insignificant improvement in our maritime industry.
He explained that the current regulatory framework makes it unattractive for private investors to participate in major infrastructural development that could move our maritime industry forward.
“There is a consensus amongst stakeholders that private sector sponsored projects are more attractive to international financial markets and their investors than the public sector driven projects”, he said.