By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor
NIGERIA’s seaport industry may have started seeing the light at the end of a transformation tunnel after years of flip-flops. The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, which is the key establishment hosting the sub-sector, has faced so many challenges that have made the ports very uncompetitive over the years.
However, the Authority’s new management appears to be changing the narrative by raising the standard of service delivery across almost all touchpoints in the cargo delivery value chain. This has equally been reflected in corporate governance in the NPA, resulting in a healthier financial position and reporting standard. There has also been an infrastructure and standard operating procedure, SOP, rejig across all stakeholder interfaces in the sub-sector.
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The scorecard since the appointment as substantive Managing Director/ CEO in February 2022, of Mohammed Bello Koko, could be seen in the infrastructure upgrade, re-enforcement of operational facilities, establishment of services delivery efficiency, regulatory and policy reforms, as well as strengthening of financials of NPA and the corporate governance.
Infrastructure upgrade: The new NPA has completed the provision and installation of 86 buoys for the Warri and Calabar pilotage districts as part of the area infrastructure upgrade. It has also executed a survey and installation of buoys at the Ijegun/Kirikiri water channel. Another major infrastructure action is the upgrading of infrastructure at Terminal “B, Berths 7 and 8, Onne Port Complex, with the overall progress on all ongoing works at 75 per cent as of the end of October, 2022. Other major infrastructure upgrade includes, completion of the construction of 6,000 metric tonnes Bitumen Tank in Rivers Port Complex to improve the company’s bitumen storage capacity which will ease their operations and have impact on the infrastructural development of the South-South;
Approval for the Completion of Road Network for the integration of Berth 9, 10 and 11 at Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne Port; Completion of the modernisation of Control Towers at Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port; Installation of 180 Marine Fenders on all Quays Authority Wide for safe berthing; Completion of Consultancy services for the shore protection and rehabilitation of the Escravos breakwaters for which the contract for rehabilitation will soon be awarded.
Meanwhile, the current management of the Authority is reviewing all available funding options in order to commence immediate reconstruction of: TinCan Island Port Complex, Berth 4-14 in Apapa Port Complex, Berth 2 in Onne, Terminal C in Warri, and Warri Jetties.
Operational facilities reinforcement: There has also been a substantial reinforcement of operational facilities across most locations and operational areas. These include the acquisition of harbour craft (tugboats, pilot cutters, and patrol boats); additional four truck parks licensed to increase capacity of truck parks serving the Lagos PortsLicensing of 10 Export Processing Terminals to facilitate exports at Nigerian Sea Ports, four of which are already fully operational; Complete dry-docking of some tugboats in order to increase the authority’s fleet; procurement and deployment of six security patrol boats, SPBs, to all pilotage districts to address the incessant attacks of vessels along the channels and at ports’ waterfronts; To facilitate free flow of traffic, 24 motor cycles were deployed to aid in the effective monitoring of the truck e-call up operation at the Apapa/TCIPC/Ijora axis.
Service delivery efficiency: Stakeholders have also noted increased service efficiency under the new management at NPA. Some of the hallmarks of this include: a significant reduction in truck turn-around time due to successful monitoring of the E-Call Up System; 65 per cent reduction in the number of accidents recorded as a result of improved truck standards on Port premises; increase in container holding capacity at Rivers Port as a result of the conversion of unused space within the PTOL Terminal into stacking area.
Policy reforms: The current management at NPA has also implemented some ground-breaking regulatory and policy reforms, which include the licensing and upgrading of pilots across the four pilotage districts. About 3,000 trucks were inspected, certified, and issued stickers to ensure safety and compliance with ISO certification requirements and Minimum Safety Standards (MSS); standardisation of operational procedures for different activities; Enforcement of full compliance of trucks to the E-Call Up regime and Minimum Safety Standard resulted in a significant reduction in the traffic gridlock along the main port corridor and the internal access roads through enforcements, proper batching, continuous access control mechanisms, and the movement of cargo via barge operations.
For these and many more reasons, the Managing Director and CEO of the NPA, Mohammed Belo Koko, has been selected for Vanguard Newspaper’s Public Sector Icon of the year 2022.
Other major structural reforms include the creation of Forcados Signal Station to enable the port to capture the movement of more service boats; completion of the bathymetric survey for the dredging of Escravos Channels; survey and mapping of the fairway buoy up to Warri-Sapele-Koko ports to the prescribed standards of the UKHO charts; signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for data digitalization and exchange for effective integration of ports statistics with the National Database; upgrading of the website and the daily shipping position portal.
Finances and governance: The financial and corporate governance outlook of the NPA has undergone some fundamental changes. The new leadership has effected a tightening of collection mechanisms and plugging of revenue leakages that resulted in the unprecedented generation of the sum of N286 billion and the remittance of N103 billion as at October 2022 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation.
The synergistic partnerships for instituting transparency harbingering under Mohammed Koko-led management recently gained international commendation as Nigerian Ports won the “Outstanding Achievement in Collective Action Award” of the Switzerland-based Basel Institute.
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