By Uzor Odigbo
All agreements the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) signed with ports operators would be reviewed in April, as private terminal operators have been given two-weeks deadline to pay all debts owed the ports landlord.
The debt owed NPA is believed to be about N40 billion.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, NPA’s managing director, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, threatened to sanction any operator who fails to clear its debt or provide holding bays for empty containers.
“All terminal operators that owe NPA must be ready to pay up their debt. They must pay in the next two weeks or face serious sanctions,” she said, adding that her administration had plugged loopholes to ensure transparency and accountability.
NPA’s accounts section, she said, would recover all outstanding debts to boost the nation’s revenue profile.
Usman also warned the operators against violating the terms of the concession under which the terminals were handed over to them.
She cautioned shipping companies against engaging in shoddy business at the ports and ordered investigation into allegations that an operator and a shipping company were violating the concession agreement.
The public relations officer of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA,), Dr Kayode Farinto, had alleged that the shipping company was charging importers additional N75,000 on each container.
Farinto said shipping companies and terminal operators were making billions of naira yearly from some of the unilateral charges.
She said a competitive tariff and pricing regime had been introduced at the ports, adding that NPA would ensure that operators complied with their agreements with the government.
Some of the challenges stakeholders said were militating against improved services, include:
• provision of a modern signal/control tower;
• an efficient signal station to monitor ship and other activities in the ports;
• provision of pilotage services by NPA;
• fostering Information Communication Technology (ICT) to improve service delivery through automation, hardware and speedy network and
• provision of marine craft and operational vehicles to boost efficiency at the ports.
The stakeholders urged NPA to address the issues of providing adequate holding bays for trucks as well as the nightmarish traffic gridlock on the access roads to the ports.