The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman has declared that the Authority draws strongly from the performance of sister agencies like Customs and others operating at the nation’s ports.
She maintained that if these agencies are not effective, then it would affect the effectiveness of the NPA.
She was speaking during a Traffic FM 96.1 radio programme titled, Maritime Today.
Absolving the NPA of blames over some situations in the port that most Nigerians blame the authority for, Bala-Usman reiterated that the job of the authority is limited to regulation, getting the channels cleared of wrecks and providing towing services for incoming vessels.
“As soon as this work is done, it is left for the terminal operators to offload the vessels and for this they have to have the right equipment.
“After the vessels are offloaded, the Customs would then need to examine the cargo and you know that this is a challenging process because it is done manually.
“The fact that this is so causes delays and the cargoes end up remaining in the terminals longer than necessary. For this length of time that the cargoes spend on the terminals, an average Nigerian would blame the NPA but the authority is not usually at fault.”
Bala-Usman insisted that if all the agencies had the proper equipment and structure to speed up things, then whatever NPA does would also move with speed.
She said for instance in some seaports outside Nigeria, there are central scanners at the gate that scan the containers capturing everything as soon as the trucks pass through the gates of the terminal, noting that with this, the Customs would not need to open the containers and manually look at everything inside.
“When they have to take the items out of the containers one after the other, you can imagine how long it would take with the numerous containers waiting to be examined.
“Most times too the art of positioning these containers for examination is a task on its own and a challenging and time wasting one at that.”
She gave the assurance however that the major headache of the seaport, which is the congestion at the Apapa port had received a long lasting solution.
She expressed satisfaction that the NPA had achieved good performance in the past four years by increasing its revenue generation and contributing substantially to the consolidated trust fund.
She added that the authority also improved port operations by increasing the turnaround time of vessels.
She said the authority had a very mutually satisfying relationship with the terminal operators that was premised on fair and equitable distribution of duties and penalties.
If as a terminal operator you do not fulfill your own part of the concession agreement you will be penalized by making you increase the dues you pay to the government.
If on its part, the government fails to fulfill its own part of the agreement, example dredging the channels for easy passage of vessels, the government will also forfeit some of the revenue that it is supposed to get from the terminals, she explained.
The NPA MD dwelt on other sundry issues that had to do with port operations and increase in capacity of personnel operating the industry.