Amaechi says FG not in hurry to review concession agreement, insists on dollar payment by operators

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.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.