Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko has assured port service providers that NPA is resolved to improve service quality and delivery at the Eastern ports, to make them serve as competitive alternatives to the ports in Lagos.
The NPA MD further said that the NPA is working with relevant agencies towards reducing clearance time of imports and cost of handling of non-oil exports, to complement the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government.
Bello-Koko stated this at a meeting with port service providers shortly after a facility assessment tour of the Onne and Rivers Ports last week, saying that NPA is building a modern and resilient port infrastructure that would fast track the country’s economic development, facilitate good-paying jobs and enable sustained peace across the country.
He disclosed that the Federal Executive Council has approved the first segment of the dual carriage road for the evacuation of cargo covering a distance of 1.2 km. It is expected that the next segment will be executed this year as provided in the 2022 budget.
“We have made budgetary provisions for the construction of these critical roads. We have also observed that Onne has transformed into a very busy gateway, unfortunately, unauthorized persons have begun to find their way into the port to vandalize assets belonging to the Authority.
“We all have noticed in recent months the upsurge in cargo traffic at Onne, there has been an improvement in the traffic here and there is need to ensure that what experienced in Lagos does not repeat itself here in terms of traffic congestion and the access roads which must be free of gridlocks.
In line with our infrastructure development and modernization agenda, we have come here to inspect the port internal roads network because we must develop the necessary infrastructure that would support and sustain the increasing cargo volumes at Onne Port and other port locations, the MD said.
The MD frowned at the level of redundancy at some of the terminals at the port. The Authority he said, would review approvals issued with respect to the affected terminals in terms of the type of cargo so that they can begin to attract appreciable cargo volumes.
He hinted that Management is considering granting new tariff reliefs at some eastern ports, especially Calabar considering the tariff reliefs to shipping companies and terminal operators to make these ports more attractive to shipping lines and cargo owners.
On the parking of trucks indiscriminately on the access road to Onne Port, he explained that plans are underway to establish a truck terminal in the area, which would be followed by the introduction of an electronic call-up system for the trucks in the eastern corridor, starting with Onne Port.
The NPA MD reiterated the Authority’s commitment towards improved maritime activities at the eastern ports corridor through massive renewal and expansion of port infrastructure in the region.
For Delta port, the consultant on the rehabilitation/reconstruction of the Escravos breakwater, Messrs Royal Haskonin DHv, has gone far with the engineering studies which is expected to be completed soon. In the interim plans have reached an advanced stage to dredge the escravos entrance for safe navigation of vessels in the channel to Delta ports.
At the Rivers Port, through active collaboration with the BUA Group, the equipment has been mobilized for the reconstruction of quay walls and berths by April 2022. We have also commenced third-party towage operations as well as deployed additional pilot cutters and security boats.
For the Calabar Port, we have made allocations in the 2022 budget for the rehabilitation of Mcliver Jetty for passenger use and the construction of radio/signal station at the dockyard in the port, among other projects.
We trust that the Authority’s renewed efforts aimed at improving shipping and cargo operations in the eastern ports, consignees and shipping lines will develop increased confidence in the use of these ports. We are hopeful that these measures would attract fresh investments into the region as well as boost the socio-economic well-being of residents in the region”, the MD stated.