With the concession of several portions of the nation’s ports to private terminal operators in 2006, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) assumed the role of a landlord.
The concession agreement transferred cargo handling operations to terminal operators, otherwise called concessionaires, and gave the NPA the role of providing marine services, provision of electricity and maintenance of common user facilities among other functions.
Since the concession of the nation’s port, stakeholders have always cried out that that NPA has reneged on the concession agreement.
However, there has been a significant departure from that since the current Managing Director of the NPA, Engr. Omar Suleiman, assumed office.
With recent events, the NPA is clearly repositioned to live up to expectations in the provision of marine and harbour services, as well as the maintenance of the channels.
In terms of marine and harbour services, the NPA recently ordered new pilot cutters and tug boats to ensure efficient and effective towage services.
Apart from these, the NPA has equally removed at least 95 per cent of wrecks along the Lagos Channel and it is also making efforts at reviving the ports outside Lagos, as well as the development of deep seaports in collaboration with private investors.
According to the General Manager, Public Affairs of the NPA, Chief Michael Ajayi, the organisation has removed 21 wrecks out of the 24 identified critical wrecks along the Lagos Channel.
These efforts are indeed worthy of commendation, and a clear testimony that the NPA is living up to its billing to ensure safe and better channels in the country.
Provision of adequate marine services is commendable, but the cargoes which have been brought into the ports must necessarily be moved out and this is where the NPA must focus attention on.
There have been several complaints by operators that the common-user facilities at the nation’s ports are in deplorable state, especially the roads.
We do know that there have been frantic efforts by the management of the authority to put the roads into shape, but these have inadequate.
The NPA needs to expedite action on these the roads to put them back in better condition. This is one area the authority must look into if it wants what it has done on the marine aspect to rub off on the entire ports operations.
The roads must be fixed, especially those of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
Aside putting the roads within the ports into shape, the NPA should look into the provision of electricity, because adequate provision of power at the ports has been a major complaint and a source of worry to many operators at the ports.
Concessionaires and the NPA itself have acknowledged that there is inadequate power supply at the ports, and even when NPA recently introduced 24-hour operations at the ports, many doubted its workability due to the issue of power, which, of course, has been a problem since the scheme kicked-off.
The NPA management must as a matter of urgency look into these issues vis-a-vis the roads and provision of power for the ports to work smoothly and efficiently.
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