In a deft move that is aimed at shoring-up the fortunes of ports within its eastern operational flank, the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) has assured container carriers and Roll on Roll off (RORO) ships willing to berth at any of its eastern ports of attractive concessions.
Managing Director of the organisation, Malam Abdul Salam Mohammed told a gathering of stakeholders that rather than compel ship owners to patronise ports outside Lagos, NPA would offer incentives that will make these ports attractive. The ports are within the eastern operational flank of NPA are: Calabar, Delta, Port Harcourt and Onne.
Although details of the incentives were not made public, he never-the-less urged ship owners, operating in the country to take advantage of the concession by coming forward with their proposal, even as he assured of his management’s readiness to favourably look into it. Acknowledging that compelling ships to divert to eastern ports has legal and economic implications, he stressed that NPA was not favourably disposed to decreeing patronage for ports outside Lagos.
The Managing Director likened forceful diversion of ships from their original point of destination to a case of an airline whose destination was changed on the directive of the Airport or a Federal Aviation Authority.
“Forcing ships to divert can be likened to a scenario in a domestic flight. It is like a passenger who boarded a flight to travel to Abuja from Lagos and the Federal Airport Authority instructed the airline to drop such a passenger at Port Harcourt because Abuja Airport is congested. You can imagine the legal and economic consequences of such an action on the part of both the passenger, the Airline and the Aviation Authority”, he said.
Arguing that though, there were instances when diversion of vessels was permitted by the Authority in the past, the Managing Director reasoned that considering several factors, forceful diversion would not be a viable alternative, especially now in a democratic setting which encourages fairness in economic decisions.
Updating the stakeholders on current efforts aimed at decongesting the ports, Abdusallam explained that “what we are doing in the short term involves the disposal of the overtime cargo, transferring some of such cargos to Ikorodu Lighter Terminal (ILT) so as to relieve the pressure on the main port. We are also looking at alternative lands that we can use to at least reduce the pressure on the port facility”, he said.