The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said that the non-passage of Ports and Harbour Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill and other bills has rendered some critical aspects of port reform ineffective.
The Acting Director-General of the BPE, Dr Vincent Akpotaire, said this in a paper titled: “Port Reform, Objectives, Benefits and Challenges’’, presented at a two-day retreat on Saturday in Lagos.
The retreat was organised by the House Committee on Ports, Harbour and Waterways, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies.
Akpotaire said the Ports and Harbour Act was meant to strengthen the NPA to perform its role of landlord and technical regulator.
According to him, the National Transport Commission Act will establish a commission as the economic regulator for all the transport modes except aviation.
Akpotaire said that the speedy passage of the port reform bills was necessary to establish an efficient, strong legal and regulatory framework to ensure fairness and protect the interest of all port operators.
He, however, said the assessment of the BPE was that an appreciable level of success had been achieved in all the anticipated areas of port concession in the last 10 years.
According to him, the concessionaires had invested in both cargo handling equipment and upgrade of facilities.
“Operators had secured their terminals in line with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. “Improved operational efficiency has been recorded in our ports. “Ship waiting time reduced from 21-24 days to o-24 hours. “Average Ship turnaround time reduced from 12 days to about 4 days.
“Average dwelling time of containers reduced from over 30 days to les then 10 days. “Average container moves per hour increased from 7 TEUs (20 ft container) to 19 TEUs (20 ft container)
“There is improved berth occupancy rate and reduced number of government agencies,’’ journalists quotes Akpotaire as saying.
The BPE chief said government generated N6.03 million dollars from concession fees, entry fees and projected throughput fees in 10 years.
He said the NPA had been unable to meet its contractual obligation of dredging the channels and berths to advertised drafts.
“The NPA has through its outsourcing channels management recorded considerable achievements in improving navigability of the channels,’’ Akpotaire said.
He said that then presence of wrecks and other obstructions in the berths and along port approaches had resulted in low patronage of the affected terminals.
Akpotaire also mentioned non-functional rail access and congested road access as contributing to high transport fare and congestion at the ports.
“The directive to reduce the number of government agencies at port is still not fully enforced in spite of efforts by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS),’’ NAN quotes him as saying.
He also talked about inconsistent government policies on international trade and other aspects of ports administration which were threatening the full realisation of the objectives of port reform.
According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria policy of foreign exchange has negatively affected the ability of terminal operators to source necessary funds to either meet the financial obligations to NPA and other government agencies of for other developmental purposes.
“High vulnerability of the terminal waterfront resulting in attacks by hoodlums and pirates on the facilities and vessels berthed at the jetties.
“No proper coordination between various agencies operating within the ports and even between tiers of governments. “There is absence of effective linkage among the various modes of transportation,’’ Akpotaire said.
He, however, said there was need for develop new ports based on a master plan for port development believed to have been developed by NPA.