Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonji-Iweala, is not happy about the activities of government agencies at the nation’s seaports.
The Minister said in Abuja that the activities of agencies of the Federal Government, who had earlier been sacked from the nation’s gateway, are reversing the gains of port reforms.
Okonjo-Iweala also descended on truck operators, whom she accused of clogging the ports access roads with their vehicles, thereby impeding the flow of traffic.
The Minister barred her mind last Thursday through the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Danladi Kifasi, at a Joint Public Hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committees on Finance, Marine Transport and Customs.
“Nigerian ports need to enhance their efficiency to come close to international best practices. The existence of a functional efficient port system is not only a boost to a country’s international trade but a plus to the government revenue profile. While some of these inadequacies can be attributed to obsolete equipment, others can be attributed to corrupt practices by officials at the ports. The multiplicity of government agencies at the ports turnout to be an unnecessary bottleneck leading to delays and higher charges to be borne by importers and ultimately by Nigerian consumers. It should be pointed out that the decongested roads in the port vicinity are unfortunately being reversed as the situation is gradually returning to status quo ante. This is made worse by the complete lawlessness of tanker drivers lifting petroleum products from tank farms,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
The Minister also said that there was an urgent need to pass the Ports and Harbours Bill.
“The ongoing reforms initiatives need to be sustained by early passage of the Ports and Harbours Bill currently pending with the National Assembly,” she said.
Speaking at the same forum, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Engr. Nebolisa Emodi, said that the Ports and Harbours Bill is being fine-tuned for presentation to the National Assembly.
“The Federal Executive Council will soon submit a Bill to the National Assembly which seeks to repel the Nigerian Port Authority ACT of 1999 and enact the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Act. This Act envisages the provision of ownership, management, operation, development and control of ports and harbours, make the Ports and Harbour Authority the technical regulator and promote private participation,” Umar said.
The Minister also disclosed that the report of a committee set up by the Federal Government to review ports concession will soon be made public and implemented.
“The Ministry of Transport has taken some proactive steps by setting up committees to review the existing agreement with the concessionaires based on performance monitoring. Review the existing revenue streams with the view to substantially increase internal generated revenue. The implementation of the recommendations of these reports will also improve efficiency,” the Minister said.
He added that the ministry is creating logistic parks around and near the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), both in Apapa, Lagos, and also creating one-stop-shop ports documentation, amongst others.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.