The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has said that the efficiency and other benefits brought about by Nigeria’s port concession exercise saved the economy over $1.6 billion in the last 16 years, which translates to a minimum of $100 million annually.
Recall that Federal Government embarked on a port reform programme in 2006, which led to the concession of cargo handling operations at the port to reputable private terminal operators.
Speaking at the 34th anniversary celebration of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos, with the theme: “16 Years of Port Concession: The Pains and the Gains,” Haastrup said the exercise has been a huge success and brought tremendous improvements to the nation’s port system.
“Nigeria’s port concession programme has been a huge success as stated in this evening’s presentation. The port concession programme has reduced the waiting time of vessels coming into our ports from an average of 45 days before 2006 to less than three days at present. It has helped in eliminating the notorious congestion surcharge hitherto imposed on the ports by major shipping lines under the aegis of the Europe-West Africa Trade Agreement (EWATA).
“The elimination of the port congestion surcharge resulted in saving Nigeria’s trading community about USD100 million per annum. If you multiply that by the 16 years of port concession, that amounts to a savings of more than $1.6 billion to date,” Haastrup, who was represented by the spokesman of STOAN, Dr. Bolaji Akinola, said.
Haastrup listed the other benefits of port concession to include injection of private capital into port development; freeing up government resources for other developmental purposes, elimination of port congestion; modernisation of our ports; improved availability of cargo handling equipment; competition among terminal operators, improved welfare and training of port workers and the institution of a condition of service for dockworkers.
“You may recall that prior to port concession, dockworkers were casualised; they did not have employers and did not have condition of service. The narrative has since changed with the introduction of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which created a condition of service for them and also created room for review of their remuneration every two years.
Our port concession regime has been studied and duplicated by many other African countries,” she said.
“Without a doubt, our economy has benefitted immensely from port concession. The drawbacks at the port are as a result of the cumbersome cargo clearing process, high rate of physical examination of cargo by Customs, over-dependence on roads for cargo delivery as well as bad roads leading into and out of the port. I believe that once these challenges are addressed by government, Nigerians will reap more gains from port concession,” the STOAN Chairman added.
At the event, Haastrup was honoured by the association as the Face of Port Concession in Nigeria while APM Terminals Apapa got the award of Terminal Operator of the Year. The Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo and the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh also got awards.
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