06 August 2015, Abuja – The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, has attributed the challenges in the concession agreement to the delay in the passage of the Ports and Harbours Bill.
He said this at a conference on port concession agreement organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and International Maritime Exhibition and Conference in Lagos.
Dikki said, “The concessionaires have made investments but there are issues, which arise because it was conceptualised that a regulator would be in place before the concessions were done. There were challenges in getting the bill ready and even when it was ready, it has remained unlegislated till date.”
He called on stakeholders to collaborate and ensure that the Ports and Harbours Bill was expeditiously passed in order to have a permanent port regulator that would stimulate the actualisation of the full benefits of the concession.
He said it was government’s desire to make the Nigerian ports more competitive so that they would be the preferred destinations for shippers.
Dikki also affirmed the positive impact of the port concession on the economy.
He said, “Anybody who saw the port in 2006 and goes round the port today will know that the concessionaires have made investment that ordinarily a government cannot bring out from its budgetary allocations to support.”
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, commended the terminal operators in the country for improving port infrastructure and making the concession programme a huge success nine years after.
Represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Pally Iriase, Dogara said the port concession of 2006 had benefitted the Nigerian economy tremendously.
He said the average turnaround time of vessels had also decreased significantly.
He said, “Since the concession agreement in 2006 till date, terminal operators have recorded some achievements as evidenced by the injection of funds into the provision of port infrastructure and equipment.
“Modest achievements have also been recorded on the seaside operation, which has drastically reduced the vessel turnaround time at our ports; the perimeter fences of all the terminals have been constructed in compliance with the ISPS Code and there is also improved security of cargo at the terminals.”
He charged the port community and stakeholders to do more especially in the automation of cargo clearance, enhancement of cargo examination processes as well the rehabilitation of the port access roads.
Dogara added that the present administration was desirous of turning the fortunes of the country around, noting that the maritime sector is key in achieving this.
According to him, the maritime sector constitutes a major component of the nation’s economy, considering the fact that Nigerian is an import dependent nation.