A private member bill on the new face of Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) is currently being considered at the National Assembly. Although, the emergence of the bill was unannounced and devoid of the usual public and media blitz , it has already scaled the hurdles of first reading and it is slated for the all-important second reading last week.
Shipping Position Weekly could not ascertain whether the bill was subjected to second reading last week, but our source confirmed that talks on the general principles of the bill was tops on the order paper.
Our correspondent also learnt that details of the Bill that is before the lower legislature is quite different from one that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) brought to the National Assembly and which it is currently harmonising with the Senate.
Although, our correspondent is not privy to the contents of the BPE version of the Bill, it was never the less confirmed that there is a sharp difference in terms of what the lawmakers are routing for and what the bureau wants.
While the BPE favours the inclusion of all laws concerning the operations of NPA to be subsumed under the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bill, the Reps are currently debating the NPA Act amendment Bill.
If passed into law, the new law will empower the NPA to regulate activities of all off dock terminals including bonded terminals and Inland Container Depots (ICD’s).
Pour source who is very close to the law makers disclosed that if the off dock terminals had been good, there would not have been the embarrassment called congestion in the ports.
The new law will also empower NPA to remove wrecks and derelicts from all the nation’s navigable channels and also domiciles the power to approve new port development by private interests with the agency.
One of the most controversial provisions of the proposed law is the provision for pegging the number of government agencies in the ports to three, namely: Customs, Immigration and Port Health.
Explaining the rational behind pruning down the number of agencies to three, our source explained that the thinking is that the presence of these agencies is inhibiting quick cargo clearance. “All other agencies, should work through these three”, he stressed.
The bill also seeks to professionalise appointments into the NPA and specifically stipulates that the chief executive of the agency must be experienced in shipping and maritime.
Our correspondent also learnt that the BPE had sent another bill which allegedly seeks among other things to relocate the head quarters of NPA to Abuja.
When contacted, the spokesperson for BPE, Mr Chigbo Anichebe confirmed to Shipping Position Weekly that the bureau had sent a bill to the National Assembly and that the organisation was hopeful that there would not be too significant differences between the two bills.