A former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Engr Omar Suleiman, has called for the establishment of Maritime Infrastructure Commission in the country.
He stated that Nigeria’s quest to become the hub of maritime activities in the West and Central African sub-regions will remain elusive without a deep seaport.
Suleiman who served as NPA Managing Director from 2011 to 2012 argued that for Nigeria to make a head way in the comity of maritime nations, she must have port facilities that can accommodate large vessels with draught of at least 15 metres and that carry up to 10,000 TEUs.
His words: “Without deep seaport, our hope of being hub will not materialise”.
According to the former NPA helmsman whose short tenure was credited with many achievements, the inability of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to provide a transhipment tariff is hampering the use of Nigerian ports for transhipment of cargoes to “landlocked countries like Niger”.
Describing investment ratio of 60:20:20 among private sector, Federal and State governments respectively in the development of some deep seaports in the country as inadequate, Suleiman said “about 50 per cent of the port cost is taken by the breakwater”.
“Investors are reluctant to pay for breakwater, unless in special cases, breakwaters are provided by the government of that country. In Nigeria, government through NPA should provide breakwater and channel. These constitute the infrastructure for safe navigation on which compulsory pilotage is being charged.
“The 40 per cent government exposure is not enough to build the infrastructures. This is one of the main problems of ports development. Government should review this policy to accommodate the peculiarities of maritime infrastructure. The best way to go is to set up a Maritime Infrastructure Commission to take care of all maritime infrastructure issues,” he said.