Even as the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) has commenced the review of the concession agreement with terminal operators, the Federal Government has mandated the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to shut down any terminal that fails to meet the requirements for efficient port operations as contained in the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM).
The order was given last Friday in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation; Dr Magdalene Ajayi at a roundtable on stakeholders’ feedback on the impact of the Nigerian Port Process Manual.
She insisted that only terminal operators that show evidence of compliance with extant provisions of the Port Process Manual stand the chance of a favourable consideration of a renewal of their concession agreement with the NPA
The Federal Government had in February 2021 launched the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM), in what it hoped would enhance Nigeria’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), boost transparency, eliminate bottlenecks and illegal demands at the nation’s seaports and terminals.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) was appointed as the implementation lead agency for NPPM, while all federal government agencies in the maritime sector were directed to support the smooth take-off and implementation.
The agencies include: The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and others.
The all-important manual is a collation of various processes extracted from standard operating procedures of stakeholders in the port sector. The aim is to improve operations, service timelines, efficiency and accountability in the port sector.
At the review of the workings of the manual last Friday, the Permanent Secretary expressed dismay that the terminal operators were in breach of the modus operandi of the NPPM.
The meeting was attended by all relevant agencies of government as well as local and global partner bodies; including the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network.
The obviously disappointed Permanent Secretary was reacting to a presentation by the Coordinator of the Port Standing Task Team; Mr Moses Fadipe of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. The Port Standing Task Team, which is multi-agency body, implements the NPPM.
In its report, the Task Team had roundly accused the terminal operators of gross violation of NPPM provisions. Fadipe agave an example of free storage facility days as stipulated by the NPPM. He also talked about requirements from terminal operators for examination of containers. He said they also continually violate the provisions for export container handling.
Dr Magdalene, while reacting to the report expressed surprise that most of the terminal operators were yet to digitalize their operations, while many do not have sufficient cargo handling equipment.
“I led the team for the renewal of terminal operator’s license, and virtually all of them told us that that they have digitalized their process and I am sitting here nine months after to hear that their processes are manual. So NPA please, I need to have a comprehensive report on your terminal operators, whether they are actually digitalized or not; more importantly for the fact that they are waiting for their license renewal”, she said.
According to her, the NPPM report is showing that what the terminal operators presented was not true, “and that they do not also have equipment.
She also directed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to up its game as the Economic Regulator of the port. “You are there, if they don’t meet up to standard you shut them down. That’s why you were appointed the economic regulator, and if you are having resistance, shut them down and notify the ministry”.
There are 26 private terminal concessionaires currently operating across the country. According to the Acting Managing Director of the NPA, Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, the management has constituted a Committee to review the lease agreements in line with operational realities.
He said, “Management constituted a committee to review the lease agreements in line with operational realities, in order to achieve the objectives of the port reforms. The Authority has secured approval for the renewal of expiring leases for the following five terminal operators and the process has commenced”
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