By Levinus Nwabughiogu, ABUJA

Eighteen terminal operators running businesses at ports in the country are owing the federal government $753 million dollars and N1.61 billion respectively.

The revelation was contained in a query issued by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, on the debts.

It was highlighted in a report ending December 31, 2019 submitted to the National Assembly.

Specifically, the operators were doing businesses at Lagos port complex, TinCan Island port, Delta port, Rivers port Complex, Onne Port Complex and Calabar Port Complex.

The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had, in the report on non-compliance/internal control weaknesses issues in ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government for year ended December 31, 2019, said terminal operators were indebted to the government to the tune of $852.094 million dollars and N1,878,560,509.57.

The query stated that “agreements signed between NPA and terminal operators states that a fixed annual payment of a sum as specified in the schedule below to be paid in 12 equal installments in each operating year, the first installment to be paid on the first day of the month after the effective date and then, on the same date of every month thereafter.”

A response to the query made available to the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives stated the NPA management as confirming that the original debt owed the government by the port operators was $852,093,730.77 and N1,878,560,509.57. Of the amount,  $753 million and N1,609,150,534.32 were yet to be paid by operators.

According to the query, the terminal operators and their debt profile included APM Terminal, Apapa ($562.060 million); Apapa Bulk Terminal ($4,621.20); ENL Consortium ($957,020.77); Greenview Development ($20,750,443.65); Standard Flour Mills ($893.77);  Intels Nigeria Limited, operators of Terminal A at the Delta Ports Complex ($2,429,382.80); Intels Nigeria Limited, operators of Terminal B of the Delta Ports Complex ($4,589,576.75); Associated Maritime Services ($328,027.64) and Greenleigh Ports Nigeria Limited ($1,734,492.41).

Others are BUA Ports and Terminal Limited ($12,254,424.55); Port and Terminal Operators Nigeria Limited ($107,311,506.46); Brawal Shipping Nigeria Limited ($226,541.72); Intels Nigeria Limited at Onne Port Complex ($430,404.81); Intels Nigeria Limited also at Onne Port ($670,954.72); Intels Nigeria Limited also at the Onne Port ($1,928,250.44), Shoreline Logistics ($1,181,023.57).

However, threr operators (Tincan Container Terminal Limited, with a debt of $4,043,004.90, Five Stars Logistics with a debt of $33,091,958.06, and Port and Cargo Handling Company with no debt) listed among the debtors, were cancelled on the document alongside Port and Cargo Handling Limited and Joseph dam Port Services for reasons not stated.

Similarly, six of the 24 companies listed on the document, including Port Terminal Multi Services Limited, Eko Support Services, Port and Cargo Handling Company, Joseph Dam Port Service Nigeria Limited, Julius Berger Services Nigeria Limited and Ecomarine Terminal) had no outstanding debt listed against them by the NPA.

In his reaction to the high debts profile at a session with the House Committee, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said it had been difficult to recover the funds.

He, however, sought the assistance of Federal Ministry of Finance.

In his remarks, chairman of the committee, Wole Oke, pledged the intervention of the House to enforce payment, saying the debtor operators would be summoned before the committee and their identities published in national dailies.

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