In the bustling Nigerian comedy industry, there is this particular joke that has made the rounds, and will surely continue to make the circuit. The joke is that oil pipelines broaching became rampant in the Niger Delta, because the deprived people of that oil-rich region got impatient with endless government promises of having development projects in the pipeline for the region that has nothing but blighted environment to show for yielding the nation’s economic mainstay.
But it is no laughing matter that a particular critical matter in the maritime sector has remained, for all the media space it has occupied over the years, in the class of projects in the pipeline. The issue is the much-touted Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) 25-year master plan for ports development in Nigeria, which came up again penultimate Saturday in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, as the NPA Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, delivered his address at the centenary celebration of the Rivers Port, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
At that event celebrating one of Nigeria’s oldest ports, Abdullahi said that Messrs CPCS Transcom, a world-class consulting Canadian firm, has been appointed as Consultant to the project, stating that it has since commenced work.
The firm was part of the consortium that midwifed the port concession programme by developing the legal framework for the concession contracts.
The NPA boss, who noted that the Federal Government’s Port Reform Programme of 2006 has met with considerable success as ship traffic as doubled and better quality of service recorded at the ports, said: “There has been reduced turnaround time for vessels, reduced cargo dwell time, safety and security of persons, ships and cargo and environmental protection.”
He said that a full-fledged Monitoring and Compliance Unit has been created by the Authority to ensure compliance with the terms of the Lease Agreement signed with terminal operators under the port concession deal.
He said: “Officers of the Authority have also received local and foreign training on monitoring port concessions in order to build capacity and gain exposure to global trends in compliance monitring. Major challenge affecting the port concession is the slow progress in the implementation of institutional reform component of the Port Reform Programme. The non-passage of the proposed Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority Bill has to a large extent constrained the ability of the Authority to ensure technical and economic regulation of the port industry in line with global standards. The Authority has however ensured full cooperation with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to ensure speedy passage of pending bills affecting the Port industry.”
The NPA, according to him, is also involved in the development of deep seaports in Badagry and Lekki in Lagos; and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State.
While these are all very heartening developments about the Nigerian ports, the true icing on the cake, however, will be when the proposed 25-year ports development master plan leaves its abode in the pipeline and becomes a reality.