The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, says the Port Harcourt Port in Rivers State has reached the end of its lifespan.
Bala Usman said this in Port Harcourt on Monday while speaking at a quarterly stakeholders meeting organised by the NPA.
“We have noted the fact that the quay walls along the Port Harcourt Port are weak and they are at the point of collapse. We instituted a conditional survey, which a report was sent to us that the Port Harcourt Port has reached the end of its lifespan,” the NPA Managing Director said, while responding to allegations over it decommissioning of the BUA terminal at the port.
She said NPA would make a presentation to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its board “to institute a full rehabilitation and reconstruction of the port in totality”.
Bala Usman also said that her organization decommissioned and shut down the BUA Ports and Terminals Limited, operator of Terminal B of the Port Harcourt Port for security reasons.
The NPA boss said her agency, as a responsible government organisation, took the step to save lives and limbs of those working at the terminal.
NPA, she added, took the decision for health and safety reasons after receiving a letter from BUA on security challenges surrounding the quays wall at its terminal.
Bala-Usman urged Nigerians to ask BUA why it would want to continue operating from a terminal that it termed unsafe in a letter it sent to NPA.
She said, “This morning, we have been served a contempt of court while arriving Port Harcout today (Monday). In November 2016, a notice of termination was issued to BUA Terminal for none compliance with the port development plan. As part of the concession agreement, there are certain developments that each terminal operator is supposed to do at their terminals. In line with the concession agreement, BUA was required to rehabilitate and reconstruct that particular terminal, but did not do that for years.
“When NPA did an inspection, their concession agreement was terminated for failure to adhere to that development plan. However, BUA instituted a court injunction that prevented NPA from taking over the facility. We got the injunction in January 2018. So, between January 2018 to June 2019, BUA enjoyed using that terminal in totality with collapsed quay walls and berths. We now received a letter from the same BUA, drawing our attention to the fact that the condition of the quay wall was deteriorating and not safe and it is at the point of collapse, and that they are very concerned.
“As a responsible regulator we looked at the state of that quay, and wondered how BUA could have used it for one and half years in that terrible state. With safety issues uppermost, we had to decommission the BUA terminal based on health and safety reasons. Now, the same BUA has gone to court to restrain NPA from implementing the decommissioning policy despite highlighting in their letter to us that the terminal is not safe. I am curious to what contempt of court this is all about. We are talking of an unsafe terminal.
“They are drawing attention of the public and alleging unfair treatment, but we are questioning what unfair treatment is in issues that has to do with safety. Do we ignore safety and allow BUA to continue to use a terminal that is about to collapse? It is important to NPA that BUA notifies the stakeholders and the court that they wrote to NPA in that regards. They should stop attributing the decommissioning to termination issue because the rule in port operation business is safety first,” she said.
She said NPA was open for an out-of-court settlement with BUA, but “won’t accept people pretending to be victimized”.