Stakeholders in the maritime industry have poured encomiums on the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mallam Mohammed Bello-Koko for being steadfast in blocking revenue leakages in the Authority thereby boosting government revenue and cutting down operating expenses.
Bello-Koko was recently appointed the substantive Managing Director of NPA by President Muhammadu Buhari. Prior to the appointed, he served as the Acting Managing Director of the authority for nine months.
The President, Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, while speaking in Lagos, said it was impressive that despite the reduction in cargo volumes occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the revenue profile of NPA has continued to rise under Bello-Koko while revenue leakages at the port due to corrupt practices are on the decline.
In a presentation to the House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Habours recently, the NPA Managing Director said that from January to September 2021, the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) performance of NPA rose by 120%, while operating expenses was reduced by about 20%.
In the presentation, Bello-Koko stated that NPA’s IGR rose to N256.28 billion as against the sum of N214.65 billion which was projected by the Authority during the period. The figure represents a revenue performance of 120% for the nine-month period or 95% of its total annual budget for 2021.
For operating expenses, as at the end of September 2021, actual spending stood at N55.1 billion as against the budgeted figure of N65.49 billion. The expenditure comprised employees’ benefits, pension costs, towage services, supplies, repairs and maintenance and other administrative overheads. This indicates a savings of N10.39 billion or 85% performance of the approved budget of N87.32 billion.
Furthermore, in compliance with the quarterly remittance of its operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) and provisions of the Finance Act 2020, the Authority remitted the sum of N62.66 billion to CRF for the year 2021 as at October 31, 2021, while a cumulative sum of N89.9 billion was transferred to the CRF in the last six months. The amount already represents the highest remittance into the CRF by NPA in a one-year period.
This impressive revenue performance achieved by the Bello-Koko led Management of NPA earned him unparalleled respect in the maritime industry and has been attributed to be a contributory factor to his confirmation as the substantive Managing Director of NPA by President Muhammadu Buhari on February 15, 2022.
Following his assumption of office as NPA’s Acting Managing Director in May 2021, the highly unassuming Bello-Koko had taken deliberate steps to reposition the Authority to focus on cost optimization and quality service delivery, while maximizing business value for port operators and users.
To support the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government through the promotion of non-oil exports, the Authority has entered into strategic partnership with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) for the establishment of third party dedicated export terminals and export parks to be located in Lagos and Ogun states. The initiative is aimed at the processing, packaging and certification of exports under a one stop platform that houses all relevant agencies responsible for quality control and regulatory validation of exports before shipment. The objective is to enhance and fast-track Nigerian export cargo for shipment at the export parks without any further port clearance protocol. A pilot project has been established at the Lillypond Terminal in Ijora, Lagos, while 10 other exports terminals are in the process of being certified in order to begin operations before the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Recently, Bello-Koko said to further enhance revenue and boost efficiency, NPA had commenced the process of consolidating its various electronic platforms under a unified port community system.
The various technology platforms currently being utilized by NPA include Oracle Financials and Human Resources Planning, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Revenue & Invoicing Management System (RIMS), e-Ship Entry Notice (e-SEN), and Customs portal for online submission of bills. The others are hyperion budgeting software, Command, Control and Communication & Intelligence (3CI), truck call-up access control system and Harbours System Linked with the 3CI for harmonization of vessel operations.
He said his plan is to consolidate all the platforms into a single port community system to allow for ease of transaction and eliminate impediments associated with manual processes. To this end, NPA is working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is providing technical aid to the Authority for the development of the Port Community System (PCS).
Recently, the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) constituted a Technical Committee for the rehabilitation and renewal of port infrastructure. The is charged with the responsibility of identifying the operational issues of the ports and assessing state of the existing port Infrastructure starting with the ports in Lagos. A technical consultant engaged for that study has already concluded the preliminary assessment of the ports.
NPA is also reviewing alternative sources of long term, low interest capital for port infrastructure development by engaging reputable funding institutions like the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Chinese Exim Bank and other infrastructure development agencies. In addition, port terminal operators are also being encouraged to explore such windows to fund the rehabilitation of the facilities and port equipment with amortisation as an option of recouping investments. This is to ensure immediate commencement of rehabilitation of the ports and quay walls and also deeper drafts to accommodate large vessels.
To enhance efficient marine services, particularly monitoring and facilitation of communication with vessels, the NPA Management has renovated the dilapidated Control Towers at Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, and new communication gadgets have been installed to ensure prompt and effective communication with vessels coming into the port channels. This has led to improvement in harbour services as well as increase in port revenue, while various marine equipment like pilot cutters, security patrol boats and tug boats are also being deployed.
To improve cargo evacuation from the port and facilitate quick return of empty containers to the port, the Bello-Koko-led Management has reviewed the modalities for registration and operations of barges. The new regulatory framework, which includes a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), took effect from 1st September 2021. It provides for enforcement of the safety and operational standards including the requirement to install radio communication equipment on-board to facilitate the sharing of traffic information. Furthermore, the Authority is in the process of deploying an electronic call-up system for barges, similar to the one for trucks, to streamline their operations and movements. It has approved rates for barge operations, which will ensure more revenue to the Government.
Similarly, the authority has supported the use of privately managed jetties as part of measures to optimise inland barge services at the port. This has encouraged barging as a mode for the promotion of inter-modal transportation. The use of barges has taken some pressure off the roads. In 2021 alone, more than 200,000 TEUs of containers were moved from the ports by barges. This has also generated huge employment opportunities in stevedoring, terminal operations and other marine services. It also becomes another revenue stream to the Authority in particular and the government in general.
Speaking on the various laudable initiatives of the Bell-Koko-led management of NPA, the Chief Executive Officer, Progressive Freight Forwarders and Logistics Service Group, Ayodele Omilani, said, “I am highly impressed by the steady progress being recorded at NPA by Mr. Bello-Koko and his team. The port access roads in Lagos have become much better unlike the days where we experienced gridlock everywhere. These days, I find it easy going to and coming out of Apapa. This effort has also driven down the cost of doing business at the port. For example, during the days of the notorious gridlock, which was less than one year ago, cost of trucking a container out of Apapa rose to about N1.5 million, but today, the cost has reduced to less than N500,000. If that is not a revolution, then tell me what is.”
Omilani also commended Bello-Koko for opening up ports in the eastern part of the country and for pursuing port infrastructure renewal agenda.
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