The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) yesterday debunked newspaper publications by BUA Ports and Terminal Limited, alleging that the agency ran against the rule of law in decommissioning Rivers Ports Terminal B, operated by the company.
In a statement issued yesterday, NPA clarified that the company flouted the concession agreement it signed with the federal government on May 11, 2006 when it became concessionaires for Rivers Port Terminal B for a 20-year tenure in line with the Port Reforms policy of the federal government.
As part of the terms of agreement for the concession, NPA disclosed that BUA was required to commence full reconstruction of berths five to eight within 90 days of takeover of the facility.
NPA alleged that as of February 26, the company had failed to commence the reconstruction of berths as required by the agreement, even after it issued the company a letter dated February 3, 2016, drawing its attention to this non-compliance.
The agency added that it served the company a default notice dated February 11, 2016 and another one dated July 27, 2016, reminding it that the non-compliance, which had led to the deterioration of berths five to seven and the total collapse of berth eight constituted a breach of the concession agreement and a threat to the safety of lives around the terminal.
The statement further disclosed that on November 11, 2016, NPA issued a three-month termination notice to the company, citing default notices served on them in relation to the non-fulfillment of the obligations under the lease agreement.
“On receipt of the notice of termination, BUA Ports and Terminal sought and obtained a restraining order from the Federal High, Lagos on January 18, 2018 barring the Authority from giving effect to the termination. In compliance with the restraining order of the Federal High Court, the authority, thereafter allowed BUA Ports and Terminal Limited full access to the premise for peaceful operation, without any interference whatsoever
“However, on May 16, 2019, after 18 months of having peaceful use of the terminal, the authority received a letter from BUA Ports and Terminals Limited, informing us of the dilapidated state of the berth and stating amongst others: ‘The jetty is in a state of total dilapidation and in urgent need of repair or reconstruction…Our engineers have advised us that the jetty is liable to collapse at any moment…,” NPA explained.
NPA said it also confirmed that the state of the jetty as described by BUA as very risky, had posed a safety hazard to all users in the terminal and needed urgent attention.
“As a result, the authority found it necessary to decommission the terminal out of safety concerns. This is a measure to forestall imminent danger as highlighted by BUA Ports and Terminal themselves and to allow for a comprehensive conditional survey of the state of the Rivers Ports in totality. All these steps are in line with international best practices on safety at port locations. The authority, as a responsible regulator having received that alarming letter on the state of the jetty by the operators was compelled to act in the manner it did to safeguard infrastructure at the Rivers Port and the ensure the safety of its users,” NPA explained.
NPA stated that its decision to decommission Rivers Ports Terminal B resulted from its unwavering commitment to the rule of law as well as the safety of all Nigerians.