Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said that the Federal Government would not be rushed into reviewing the concession agreement it signed in 2006 with private terminal operators at the nation’s seaports.
Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos yesterday, the Minister also insisted that the operators must continue making payments to government coffers in U.S. dollars, in order to maximise government revenue.
The maritime sector, according to him, is capable of generating up to N500billion annually if its potentials are well harnessed and right persons appointed to head key agencies.
“Let us start with a target of N500billion first then maybe next year if it is possible to raise that amount then we can talk of N1trillion.
“The spiking nature of the oil industry is not something that the Federal Government should rely on. There are other sectors of the economy that we have to invest in,” he said.
On calls for review of the port concession agreements, he said, “We can’t review the concession agreement without them (the concessionaires). So when I said I am desirous of review, it is to sit with them to ask if we are implementing the agreement. So if you ask me if I am proceeding on the review of the agreement, the answer is not yet.
“An auditor will do a comparative analysis of the closest seaport and its state of development as at when the port was concessioned.
“If the auditor’s report says we need to renegotiate the agreement then I will call them to a meeting,” he said.
Speaking on the development of the rail sector, Amaechi said the Abuja -Kaduna rail line will become operational in May while the construction of the Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar standard gauge will commence before the end of the year.
According to him, all the rail networks must terminate at all the seaports including Apapa and Tin Can ports to encourage intermodal transportation.
On the disagreement by some operators against the granting of monopoly for the handling oil and gas related cargo to Intels, the Minister stated that while the agreement between Intels and government must be respected, if the agreement is faulty, it can be renegotiated.
He said the positions of all concerned parties including those of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) would be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for a final decision by government.
On his part, the Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi said the level of investments by terminal operators at the port have increased substantially since port concession.
“The concessionaires have made a lot of tremendous investment in the area of infrastructural development. Of course, there are some terminals that are still far behind and that is why we say maybe there will be a need for review of the agreement.
“But I will say it anywhere that the concessioning of the port has achieved success even when compared to the amount of revenue we were getting before, it is incomparable,” he said.
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