FG extends port concession agreements, to float new national carrier with Cabotage vessel fund

The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Mallam Habib Abdullahi yesterday disclosed that some port concession agreements have been extended by the Federal Government due to satisfactory performance and investments by the affected concessionaires.

Abdullahi, who did not reveal the identities of concessionaires who benefitted from the extension, made the disclosure when he received the Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, Aminu Diko, who paid a courtesy call on him.

While assuring the ICRC of continuous support and cooperation in the discharge of its duties, Abdullahi directed the Monitoring and Compliance Division of NPA to henceforth submit a copy of its quarterly reports to the ICRC.

He commended the concession commission for being alive to its responsibility, which he said would give it the opportunity to get first-hand information on the challenges of port concession and listen to observations from concessionaires.

Abdullahi announced that a public-private-partnership department would be established in NPA to cater for investors’ interests at the seaports.

Speaking earlier, the ICRC Director-General congratulated Abdullahi on his reappointment as NPA helmsman, noting that his return to the office was an indication of his dedication to quality service.

Diko said ICRC was established in 2005 to address physical infrastructure deficits; certify projects by Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and monitor project compliance by concessionaires.

He said the ICRC team was in Lagos to visit Lekki deep seaport and Kirikiri Lighter Terminals 1 and 2 to evaluating their conditions and extent of development.

In a separate development, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi has revealed that plans are underway to float a new national shipping line before the end of the year.

Ameachi, who disclosed this yesterday at the African Maritime Conference held in Lagos, said initially he did not support the idea of floating a new carrier because of how the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) was poorly managed.

He however noted that after due consultation, it has been agreed that a new national carrier be established with proceeds from the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund.

He said a committee in the Ministry has already been set up to identify the private investors that would be engaged to commence the process of refloating the new carrier.

“Some friends of mine have met with me last year and advised that there is a need for national carrier to increase the cargo output of Nigerians. Initially I did not support it because of what happened to the Nigerian National Shipping Line. I felt that to start the process of establishing a national carrier now and then and go back to the same old process where its management will not be as good as we expect it will not be the best thing to do.

“However, after conversation with the resolve that from the Cabotage money and money from private investors, we can establish a national carrier and it will be run by the private investors, we have set up a committee and I hope their report will include that they have been able to identify the private investors for us to engage them and commence the process. We hope that before the end of the year, we should be able to have a national carrier,” he said.

The minister who also spoke about the issue of security of the nation’s waterways berated the apex maritime regulatory agency, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for derailing from its core responsibility of securing the nation’s waterways to establishing maritime universities under its past management.

He said, “Security of the nation’s waterways is the greatest challenge NIMASA has. I thought that NIMASA should be able to address that and not be building university and establishing faculty of maritime in universities. I thought they should concentrate on how to clean up the waterways to enable vessels operate freely,” he said.

In his speech at the event, founding President of Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Chief Issac Jolapamo, who lamented the plight of Nigerian ship owners, stated that the set back in the industry is not because of lack of developmental ideas but because the government has not deemed if fit to implement far reaching recommendations made by experts and stakeholders in the sector.

He stated that the sector is capable of funding more than half of the nation’s budget if necessary steps are taken to revamp it.

 



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