The Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) over the weekend, reiterated that its decision to decommission the BUA Terminal in Port Harcourt port was borne out of the need to ensure safety of lives at the controversial terminal.
The management of NPA and BUA Ports and Terminal Limited have been at each other’s throat over the decision of the former to decommission the terminal. But, NPA in a statement issued on Friday and signed by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications; Jatto Adams, accused BUA of spreading “half-truths and falsehood”.
According to the NPA, “it is curious that BUA has continued to insist that the NPA has ran afoul of the injunction granted by the Federal High Court, Lagos, because there is no truth in this”. It explained that, “within the 18-month period between January 2018 when the injunction was secured and June 2019 when the Authority decommissioned Terminal ‘B’ for safety concerns, BUA enjoyed peaceful occupation of the premises and berthed 117 VESSELS made up of liquid and dry bulk cargos! This puts a lie to every attempt to suggest that the NPA has flouted the orders of a court of law. Moreso, the total number of vessels berthed showed that they have been making full commercial use of the terminal even with the poor quay walls and low draft”.
The NPA also picked holes on the claim by BUA to the effect that it had written to NPA for approval to carry out some remedial works on its berth in Port Harcourt port.
“This is a laughable claim as BUA only commenced writing the authority requesting to reconstruct the berth after the termination notice had been issued following 10 years of refusal to fulfill this obligation”, the statement added.
“How can you request to reconstruct a berth which you have no legal claim to following the termination? This is yet another of their attempts at deceiving the Nigerian public”, NPA said.
On the provision of security, the absence of which BUA alleged: “led to the nefarious activities of hoodlums and vandals who over a period of time cut the pipes and steel beams of the berths thereby affecting their stability and consequently making remedial works imperative,” the Authority wishes to state that we have a record of three reported cases between 2014 and 2016, TEN YEARS after BUA was supposed to have commenced and concluded the reconstruction works. These acts of vandalism, (which were recorded on August 25, 2014 at 17:45 hours, June 27, 2016 and August 11, 2016 at 2:00 hours respectively) would not have happened if the company had complied with the agreement and conducted the reconstruction within 90 DAYS stipulated within the concession agreement as the collapsed state of the berth exposed the structures and allowed for the cutting. Nevertheless, the Authority is committed to continuously secure the berths despite these isolated cases” it added. The NPA also insisted that “the decision to decommission Rivers Ports Terminal was out of safety concerns. This concern resulted from a May 16, 2019 BUA Ports and Terminals Limited letter informing us that the “jetty is in a state of total dilapidation and in urgent need of repair or reconstruction…our engineers have advised us that the jetty is liable to collapse at any moment…” “The NPA would be an irresponsible organisation to look the other way and endanger the lives of Nigerians when a company painted this frightening situation in a letter sent to the Authority” The NPA however said that it was open for arbitration in the face-off with BA over the decommissioned berth, even as it declared that the “continued media show cannot be used as a ploy to hamstring the NPA from performing its rightful oversight duties and protest the integrity of the Nigerian maritime industry”.