• May rechristen NPA
• To Give President Yar Adua 60 days to assent or…
Strong indications emerged from last week’s public hearing on the Port and Harbours Bill that the bill may become a reality by August 2009 if feelers from the National Assembly are anything to go by.
The public hearing which was well attended by stakeholders is the final stage in the process of consultations between the lawmakers and industry operators after which the bill will be tabled for concurrence by the Senate.
This also coincides with indications that the law makers may have bought into the idea of changing the nomenclature of the bill to Port and Harbour Bill, 2009, paving way for a possible name change for Nigerian Ports Authourity to Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authourity and adding to the agency’s statutory responsibilities.
A member of the House committee on marine transport confirmed to Shipping Position Weekly shortly after the public hearing that the joint committees on marine transport and judiciary will soon package the bill for the final consideration of the House of Representatives.
“I assure you that the bill will be passed in July, or latest by August and we will forward it to the President immediately for his assent and if he refuses to do that within 60 days, the law is very clear about what should be done by the National Assembly”, he declared.
The celebrated hearing however offer the Lagos state government which has been eying some port-related activities to voice out its displeasure over the monopoly of the federal government in port related activities.
It also offered the lawmakers the opportunity to open up on their perception of the executives and its agencies on plans to reform the ports and create enabling environment.
The Lagos State Government represented by its commissioner for transportation, Professor Bamidele Badejo frowned at the new law which seeks to make port ownership the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government. The state said the prevailing tilt is towards private sector participation and not government dominance.
The state argued that Lagos being a hub for shipping activities in the country must be taken into consideration in the port reforms as ports are situated in specific states and interlinked with waterways that belong to individual states.
But the lawmakers pointedly accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) for allegedly deliberately blocking all attempts to pass a new bill for NPA.
Speaking the minds of the law makers, chairman committee on public accounts and member of the marine committee, Hon CID Maduabum in a response to an objection to a section of the bill said: "You people in the Presidency have failed. Up till now, you have not been able to provide a legal framework to regulate the marine transport sector, and some people have heroically brought a Bill to you and you still have the courage to come here and tell us that we have not done our work?,
The idea of the name change was prominent in the submissions of some critical stakeholders who felt that amending the NPA law to give it more responsibilities and not reflecting that in its name is a missing lacuna.