BY Eromosele Abiodun
Aside changing Nigeriaâ€™s status as one of the most inefficient ports in the world, private terminal operators in Nigerian ports have since the concession, invested over $2billion (N618 billion) in modernising and upgrading their various terminals as well as in manpower development.
As a result of the huge investment, ship waiting time has been eliminated to zero days while vessel turnaround time has also improved significantly based on cargo type.
Also, congestions at the various ports have also been eliminated resulting in cost saving to the tune of N30billion annually.
Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Vicky Haastrup, who reeled out these statistics, commended the federal government for its foresight in the concession of terminal operations at the nationâ€™s seaports.
Haastrup said the success of the ports concession programme, which was implemented in 2006, has made it a model for the consideration of other governments across the world to concession public infrastructure and also for Nigeria to extend the model to other sectors of the economy.
Haastrup added: â€œWhat concession does is free government resources for the provision of other social services to the people. Government remains the ultimate owner of the concessioned facilities but the private sector is mandated to develop and operate those facilities under agreed terms over a certain period. This is a worthy model, which has not only improved operations at our ports, but has also attracted commendation from within and outside the country.
â€œAfter Nigeriaâ€™s port concession, we now have countries like Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ghana and even Greece adopted our model. The Liberians and Ghanaians sent delegations to understudy our port concession model to develop theirs. Recently, the Greek Government concessioned the Thessaloniki Port, which is one of its most important public infrastructure. This is a clear indication of our success as a nation in building models worthy of emulation by others.â€
She also said that the federal governmentâ€™s consideration for adopting the concession model for the railway and aviation sectors derive from the success of port concession.
â€œI have implicit confidence in the present governmentâ€™s ability and commitment to the improvement of public infrastructure in the country and one is delighted to note that concession has become the model being adopted for both the railway and aviation sector reforms,â€ she said,
The STOAN chairman also commended the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for launching the Safety, Information, Operation and Communication Centre to enhance 24-hours operation at the port.
According to her, â€œThe commissioning of this centre and the recent launch of four new tugboats by NPA will deepen reforms at the port. It will complement the efforts of terminal operators to make our ports competitive,â€ she said.
She added: â€œBefore the concession of terminal operations in 2006, Nigerian ports faced major challenges which placed them among the most inefficient in the world. Before concession, the average waiting time for ships before berthing was 21 days, vessel turnaround time was seven days while dwell time for cargo was as high as 45 days.
â€œVirtually all the major seaports across the country were heavily congested leading to insecurity and pilferage, delays in cargo clearance and inefficiencies in cargo handling largely due to manual processes. As a result of the challenges, the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2006, concessioned cargo handling operations at the ports to 25 terminals operators under various lease agreements ranging from 15 to 25 years.â€