Following the presidential endorsement, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Interim Management Committee (IMC) says it has discovered power station components worth $34 million abandoned at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Rivers State since 2017.
The details of the discovery were provided by the NDDC’s acting executive director of projects, Cairo Ojougboh, in a statement on Thursday.
According to Doctor Ojougboh, the IMC led by himself and the executive director of finance and administration had received a report on the NDDC cargo and quickly visited the NPA to see the abandoned equipment, meant for NDDC sub-stations at Ekparagwa and Ikot Epkene in Akwa Ibom State.
During the inspection, Ojougboh observed that the new board whose reconstitution was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari would have continued the same pattern of maladministration by it, predecessors.
“It is very unfortunate that since this equipment was imported in 2017, no commission official, no MD of the NDDC have ever come to look at it. A project we know is about $35million; this is where it ended up. But the IMC complete it,” he said.
The Head of Marketing Department Ports and Terminal Operations, Adaku Ugochukwu also lamented that the equipment was simply occupying space at the port and no NDDC officials went to see it since 2017.
A report on the performance of Nigerian Ports has revealed that the country loses over N1 trillion every year to port inefficiencies, process failures and corruption.
The report titled ‘Nigeria: Reforming the Maritime Ports’ which was commissioned by the Centre for International Private Enterprises in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Financial Derivatives Company, was publicly unveiled in Lagos on Friday at the LCCI public-private discussions on port reforms.
The report states that while the efficiency of port operations is a major driver of trade and economic activities across countries, Nigeria’s case has been rather gloomy.
It says over the years, users and operators at the Nigerian Ports have been facing lingering challenges and bottlenecks which include infrastructure shortcomings, policy and regulatory inconsistencies, overlapping functions and duplicity of roles among government agencies operating within ports across the country.
The report also pointed out that a lack of clear legislation, ports governance remains prone to inefficiency and corruption. It added that under such condition, companies in the Nigerian ports have to deal with bureaucratic red tape, constant delays, high costs, harassment, and demands for illegal charges.
Losing Money And Potential
Estimates from the research show that trillions of Naira in revenue is lost annually within the ports and business community due to inefficiencies and inherent shortcomings.
The report also stated that these inadequacies at the ports diminish their potential to create about 10,000 new jobs annually and about 800,000 jobs on the long run.
The Nigeria: Reforming the Maritime Ports report claimed that Nigerian seaports remain the most expensive in the West African sub-region attributing this to the cumbersome documentation requirements and double charges imposed on importers and exporters.
Using a semi-structured survey, respondents of the study listed the documentation processes, requiring 25-33 different papers from multiple agencies as the biggest issue contributing to time and cost delays at Nigeria’s seaports.
About one-fourth of the respondents also complained about the duplication of functions of the multiple agencies within the ports while 29% of those surveyed in the report say multiple cargo inspections are the most critical of operational bottlenecks.
Not All Doom
It is not all doom for the industry according to the report.
It stated that Nigeria’s ports continue to see substantial increment in gross tonnage by 3.3% – Compounded Annual Growth Rate – to 144.2 million tons between 2010 and 2015.
The annual growth rate of 1.8% is expected to rise until 2021 despite the challenges in the sector.
However, these growth projections are premised on the assumption that the nation’s ports will continue to be the preferred means of transporting goods in and out of the ECOWAS sub-region.
Call For Immediate Port Reforms
In its recommendations, the report pointed out that authorities should embark on immediate port reforms.
These reforms are expected to lead to faster clearance of goods, shorter waiting times for ships awaiting berth, eliminating redundancies in the functions of the several regulatory government agencies in the ports.
It also called for the adoption of an Integrated Advance Cargo and customs clearance system, with scanning, sealing and tracking (SST) capabilities, establishment of a National Trade Data Centre and implementation of a Single Window Platform.
The report also called for more private sector investment in Nigerian Ports, reduction in the number of government agencies to 6 from 14.
From the policy end of things, report called for the immediate passage of certain legislative bills that will aid port reforms and improve performance.
These bill include the National Transport Bill and the Port and Harbour Bill (PHB).
The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a harmonised standard operating procedures and port services support portal that will serve as a guideline for operations at all ports around the country.
Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said that the procedures, policies and automated service portal will cause enhanced port administration, which will bring greater investment into Nigeria.
The portal is also expected to enhance trade and increase business for small and medium enterprises.
In line with the current economy diversification plans of the country, the Vice President expects that an easier business environment starting from the ports would encourage the importation of the components for domestic production and check unwanted imports.
He believes with a better-regulated administration, the ports will play vital roles in the diversification of the economy.
The three priority areas set to tackle about 19 major challenges of port services in Nigeria, require strong collaboration of all government port agencies in what the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Ameachi and other key players guarantee will have far reaching effects on the nation’s economy.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has turned its searchlight on the Nigerian Ports with the commencement of undercover operations at the nation’s ports starting from Monday.
The Executive Chairman of EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde made this known in Abuja during a meeting with the Special Adviser to the President on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Sylvester Monye.
Mr Lamorde noted that the anti-graft agency will work in line with the reformation of Nigerian ports to see that unnecessary bottlenecks are removed.
Professor Monye, who was at the EFCC office to solicit support for ports reformation, blamed some government agencies for deliberately mounting obstacles, creating bottlenecks and exploiting genuine importers.
He assured that the ports reform committee will apply itself to building up the ports into institutions with the right structures for better productivity.