Mr. Tope Wan (Stakeholder)
It is a good thing for the government to be talking of reviewing the port Act now, but at the end of the day it may all turn out to be lip service. The Act will need total enforcement if it eventually scales through because for example, this is not the first time we have been complaining about the number of agencies at the port, we have the customs, navy, quarantine, NDLEA, police and so on, and they all want to prove that they are important, they are choking up the system and constituting a bottleneck which will not make 48 hour clearance of goods achievable, we have been complaining about it but all the complains have gone unheeded. So what I will suggest is that the Act should focus on reducing the number of agencies present at the port, they should give access to only immigration, customs and probably the port health, there should be less human contact at the ports, but like I said earlier, it is total enforcement that we really need.
The NPA is clamouring for more powers at the ports and I don’t know what that is all about because they still collect royalties from concessionaires, no vessel berths at the port without one or two charges paid to NPA, they still give license to operators that are trying to come into the system, so what else do they want? They should be okay with that. Meanwhile I don’t think there is any need for setting up of another agency to come into the system as some people are suggesting.
Oliver Omajuwa (Sifax Group)
In the new port Act, government should make sure that no agency or NPA is brought in to be a sole regulator of the ports, it should be a collective thing that will equally involve all stakeholders, the concessionaires are also a part of the system, so the law should also include them, it should be like a standing committee, if the government should bring in another agency, where will it be getting money to sustain it? It will be a duplication of duty.
Presently, contrary to the spirit of port reform, NPA still manages some terminals, so there is need to streamline the provision of roles between NPA and the concessionaires
David Oladimeji (Maritime reporter)
The new port Act should focus on splitting NIMASA; the merging of the then- JOMALIC and the NMA to form NAMASA which later became NIMASA has not made the agency to be effective.
The new Act should ensure that some obligations are removed from NIMASA, like the coast guard and that of rescue operations; they must not be handling all these alone.
The port Act will work for the better of the maritime sector if it is well articulated. Also, there should be specification of duties, currently, NPA does not know its functions, they have powers but they are not using it.
Mr. Olanrewaju Shodeinde (Customs agent)
Government is trying to smuggle in a law that will give them more powers after the concession of the ports have already taken place, what should have been done first of all is to review the old Act which we have been using, just the way it is done in other countries. The new Act should empower the NPA as it is supposed to be, NPA should have power to license new port development, whether privately or publicly owned, it should also give the harbour master total powers to regulate berthing of ships at all terminals and port locations within a pilotage district, besides handling matters relating to health, safety and environment.
Mr Lucky Amiwero (President, Council of Managing Directors)
The new Port Act should make provision for economic regulator of activities in the ports. What we have at the moment is technical regulation which covers the core marine aspect and which in a way is being carried out by the Nigerian Ports Authourity. The law must also make provision an economic regulator to handle commercial disputes, NAP can not do this and we have said this severally. There must be provision for the two. The economic regulator must be an independent body. Secondly, the law must avoid duplication of responsibilities. There are many of such instances in the draft. One is wrecks removal responsibilities, because I have read through the draft bill and I can see that the new law seeks to also give responsibility for wrecks removal to NPA. The new law must also address the issue of monopoly in the ports and enhance best practices in the ports.
Owolabi Omotayo (Water transporter)
I think the move to amend the Nigerian Ports Authority Act is a good one, because there are a lot of irregularities going on in that agency.
Also, we expect that critical issues concerning port concession will be addressed; the contract agreement between NPA and the concessionaires is something that they are still hiding away from the industry players,
Alhaji O.C Alawode (Importer)
I believe the Act is to give legal backing and to further empower the NPA to carry out its statutory functions properly. I expect that after this, the NPA should be able to regulate port development and also the terminal operations. NPA should be given maximum powers to look into the affairs of terminal operators and the issue of high charges will be checked, presently the terminal operators are not being watched, nobody regulates their activities and thus, it has not made the concession to impact positively on the maritime industry.