Maritime Report

July 26, 2018

Reforming the Nigerian ports services

Hadeza Bala Usman, NPA

Hadiza Bala Usman

By Godwin Oritse

THIS month of July marks that second year anniversary of the appointment of Ms Hadeza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, a development has witnessed giant strides in the development of the nation’s port industry.

Hadiza Bala Usman

On assumption of office, Bala Usman took a few weeks to under study the entire port industry including the operational systems of the NPA by meeting with various stakeholders in the industry and this process gave her the launch pad upon which she went about her duties and setting targets for her and her team.

The first major project Usman embarked upon was the creation and commissioning of the Command & Control, Communication and Intelligence Centre for NPA.

The centre serves as surveillance of all activities and as an information network centre for security agencies in the Port.
The surveillance system in the NPA, reaches as far as shipping activities in the Eastern ports of the country, thereby putting both NPA system, the vessel crew and other security agencies on the same page in terms of security of the vessel, crew members and ensuring that importation of dangerous goods and prohibited items are checkmated.

Over the years, the Authority was defrauded by unscrupulous importers in connivance with equally unpatriotic NPA officials.
To block the leakages, the Usman launched the provisional, final billing and customer portal module of Revenue Invoice management system aimed at improving service offering, partner relationship, create efficient payment method, maximize revenue and eradicate losses associated with fraud and revenue leakage.

Besides, for the first time in a long while, the acquisition of tug boats, namely, MT Daura, MTUbima, MT Uromi and MT Majiya, to boost the marine operations of the NPA and four newly built water crafts to enhance operational efficiency was commissioned about eight months ago.

The acquisition of the tug boats has improved the berthing and sailing of ships that call at the nation’s ports.
The management of the authority under the able leadership of Usman also Established and entrenched a level playing field for all operators in the port industry by removing all bottlenecks that hinder healthy competition in the industry.

An example is the de-classification of ports terminals which removed the categorization of some ports as strictly oil and gas
To ensure transparency and accountability, the Organization became the first MDA to open its budget to the public with the signing of a  Memorandum of Understanding with Budgit Open Budget System Platform and Implementation of a Public Data Dissemination programme.

She also introduced a new licensing regime to ensure transparency and due process for its partners and stakeholders.

Ahead of the expiration of some of the concession agreements, Ms Usman called for a review of some of these agreements to ensure seamless collaboration for a sustained development of the Maritime industry which led to the development of Standard Operating Practice, SOP.

In view of the growing export market of Nigerians, the Ms Usman led management team, established a dedicated terminal to handle export aimed at diversifying the economy and improving earnings.

Some of these dedicated terminals are sited in Ikorodu Lighter Terminal for Lagos, Shoreline Logistics Terminal for Calabar port, Bua Ports and Terminal (warehouse measuring 2.896sqm and Port and Terminal Operators Limited (Warehouse measuring 2.760sqm) for Rivers Port .
It will be recalled that Usman initiated the signing of MoU with Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for the reconstruction of the Port access road. The project cost is put at N4.34 Billion and the NPA contributed the sum of N1.829Billion to the ongoing road project

To further create an efficient cargo clearance system, the authority is currently in collaboration with Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to introduce the much awaited Single Window Platform aimed at simplifying and harmonizing formalities, procedures and the related exchange of information and documents between the various partakers in a supply chain.

Her presence at the NPA has restored investors’ confidence in the port industry notably the China Harbour Engineering Company taking up the balance of NPA,s equity in the lekki deep seaports project.

The Lekki deep seaport initiative has also emboldened the coming of other investors with DP World signing a partnership agreement with Josepdam Port Services just as the Tanger Med of Morocco has also indicated willingness to develop a green field terminal logistic base in Nigeria.

The authority recently carried Realignment exercise of the Authority’s organizational structure with a view to reducing cost and improve efficiency of business processes.

Usman’s introduction of merit driven performance management system to improve employee and organizational productivity, to a large extent, brought about a transformation of the Authority’s manpower development practices which, consequently, improved the skill, knowledge and capacity of employees.

The publication of NPA’s tariff on its website for the whole world to see in line with the vision of transparency and accountability, has made payment of bills easier as all of such payments can now be done online.

In an effort to improve ship traffic at the Eastern ports (Delta, Calabar and Port Harcourt), the current management has deployed Tug boats, pilot cutters and initiated dredging works of the channels .

The successful berthing of FPSO Egina project is an attestation to the constant infrastructural and operational preparedness of the NPA to serve clients efficiently now and in the foreseeable future.

The constant engagement of stakeholders by the management on quarterly basis has resulted in industrial harmony.