By PROVIDENCE OBUH
Senate Committee on Marine Transport has demanded that the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) work harmoniously with the National Assembly for prompt approval of its 2013 budget.
The Committee made the demand during a visit to NPA head offices in Lagos, where it was conducted round the office under reconstruction and the Marina jetty by the Managing Director, NPA, Malam Habib Abdullahi.
However, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Zainab Kure expressed displeasure on some irregularities arising from the concession.
Kure criticized NPA over reports made available to the Committee on high port charges which the concessionaires have unilaterally fixed without recourse to any authority, “if there were regulators in place, the excess of the concessionaires would have been curbed.”
She hinted that the port and harbour bill had scaled the first reading and will soon be presented for second reading, which she believes it will provide a regulator that will serve as an arbiter for the industry.
Commenting on the ongoing reconstruction work of NPA, she said, “Management must learn from series of building collapse in the country and ensure that the National Assembly do not appropriate money for a building that will collapse by ensuring that the contractor does a good job. The jetty deserved reconstruction considering its age, calling on the management and staff to work together for the benefit of the nation and the economy. She assured that the Committee would give NPA full cooperation to actualize all its ongoing projects.”
Earlier in his presentation, Abdullahi noted that the ports have witnessed tremendous improvements in areas of cargo throughput, vessel turnaround, cargo clearance time and infrastructure.
He maintained that the organization has achieved about 49 percent of its 2012 budget, assuring that on completion of the ongoing projects, East-West road, reconstruction of port access road and dredging, the nation’s ports will further witness more development.
On high cost of cargo clearance, he attributed this to some external factors like lack of power, waters, legislation on restriction of movement of trucks and road, even as he alerted the legislators that it would not be possible for the country to transact cargo 24 hours when there is no light, hence the light in the ports are generated by the concessionaires.
“All these factors have contributed to the cost of cargo cost in the nation’s sea ports,” he said.