Despite the economic down turn, the nationâ€™sÂ cargo throughput shot up by one million tonnes to stand at 66 million tonnes last year from the 65 million tonnes that was recorded the previous year.
Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Malam Abdulsalam Mohamed, disclosedÂ this in Lagos over the weekend,Â adding that theÂ records which exclude crude oil, were attained in spite of the global economic recession affecting ports throughout the world including the Nigerian ports.
â€œIn the last 10 years, we have witnessed a progressive increase in cargo throughput,â€ he said.
â€œNigerian ports are doing appreciably well,â€ he remarked adding that in 1999, the ports handled 44 million tonnes of cargo.
Mohammed said in 2010, the organisation had projected a 10 per cent increase in its revenue but â€œthe greatest challenge for theÂ NPA is the banking crisis that has to do with inability of the banks to make credits facilities available to importers.â€
He, however, said in some way, the recession had provided opportunities for trade for countries like Nigeria in terms of prices of international goods and charter rates that had gone down.
Mohammed speaking about port reformsÂ said, â€œNPA needs to be more alive in its monitoring responsibilities.â€
We need to offer customers better value, we need to be more active in our interaction with terminal operators but the concession has added value to Nigerian ports, Mohammed said.
The NPA chief executive also made some clarifications on the newly-introduced Cargo Tracking Note (CTN). According to him, the objective of governmentâ€™s introduction of the Cargo Tracking Note was a sincere one because the scheme would enhance the security of the maritime industry.
He said just like the international maritime community came up with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code after the U.S Sept. 11, 2001 attack, nations felt it was necessary to obtain advanced information on cargoes, the vessels and the personnel.
There is need to track and have adequate information relating to cargo and ship movements, he said.
He said NPA had been discussing with the Shipping Agents of Nigeria (SAN), the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and had gained their confidence on the CTN scheme.
Mohammed said the scheme had taken off with effect from Jan. 11, 2010, saying that a little grace period was given till the end of February 2010.
According to him, very soon, there would be public notices in respect of everything that would be done regarding implementation and penalties for violators of the scheme.
The Managing Director said NPA projected that it would record the sum of 6 million Euros in the first year of operation, adding that this would go a long way in adding value to the Nigerian society.
He, however, said because of delays in taking off, the target revenue on CTN might not be fully achieved in the first year. On the recent incident of ships washed ashore by storm, Mohammed said â€œnatural disasters happen but the only thing is to be ready for eventualities and have search and rescue plans.â€
He said though there is an international Search and Rescue Centre in the country, the issue of search and rescue should not be left alone to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) adding that NPA has been working jointly with NIMASA onÂ search and rescue missions in the past.
Mohammed also said there had been no conflict between NPA and NIMASA on removal of wreck from theÂ nationâ€™s waters. He said the NPA had the function to remove wrecks right from its establishment in line with the law establishing it.
The managing director said the Act establishing NIMASA also made provision for clearance of wrecks as well as the Act establishing the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
He said if the responsibility of wreck removal is taken away from any of the parastatals, it might impede their ability to perform their responsibilities.Mohammed said wrecks disturbed safe navigation and this exposed vessels toÂ dangers.