Terminal operators owe govt N86.2bn ports charges, fees

29 February 2016, Lagos – Terminal operators in Nigeria are currently indebted to the Federal Government to the tune of $433.4 million, about N86.2 billion, for lease and container throughput fees as at December 2015, Financial Vanguard investigation has revealed.

Port-Terminal

Port terminal (Photo: Vanguard)

But most of the terminal operators when contacted said they were up to date with their payments to the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.

The terminal operators allegedly indebted to government are  AP Moller Terminals, Five Star Logistics, BUA Limited, ENL, Apapa Bulk Terminal, Greenview Development Nigeria.

Others are Josephdam Terminal, Tin Can Island Container Terminal, Port and Cargo Handling Services and Port and Terminal Multi-purpose Services Limited.

The debts are accumulated fees, charges and rentals that are yet to be paid into the purse of the federal government, owner of the ports that were concessioned to terminal operators.

A breakdown of the amount being owed to government as at December 2015 showed that the top three debtors are AP Moller Terminal that owes a total of $1.8 million, Five Star Logistics whose lease, throughput fees stand at $6.4 million while N13.6 million debt in movable assets was recorded against BUA Limited.

Other debtors are ENL whose indebtedness to the government stands at $2.3 million,  Apapa Bulk Terminal debt was put at $2.9 million, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited owed a sum of $4.3 million while $476,016.52 was also recorded against Josephdam terminal.

Also indebted to the government are Tin Can Island Container Terminal, (TICT), Port and Cargo Handling Services   owned by Sifax Group,  and Port and Terminal Multi-purpose Services Limited (PTML)  $1.5 million, $4.4 million , $746,896.08 and Royalties of N766.3 million respectively.

According to data sighted by Financial Vanguard, Port and Terminal Operators Nigeria Limited owed a total of N15.5 billion in throughput, lease, fees and monies accruable to movable assets. For the West African Terminal, (WACT), it owed a total of N19.12 million in cargo dues and $9.9 million as amortized dues as at the month of December of 2015, while operations of the Integrated Logistics Nigeria Limited, popularly called Intels had an outstanding bill of over $38,000.00 and over $842,000.00 in its Federal Lighter and Federal Ocean terminals on Onne, Rivers State.

A total of $139,854.19 was recorded against Brawal’s operations at the Kirikiri Lighter Berths Phase One terminal in Lagos during the period under review outstanding lease and throughput fees, while Intels operations in Delta ports had a total of $2,364,884.71 recorded against it.

For its operations in terminal ‘B’ in Delta ports, Intels incurred a debt of over $4.3 million in lease and throughput fees including penalty on Gross Metric Tonnage (GMT). Nigeria’s construction giant, Julius Berger also owed the government a total of $232,983.59 as debt recorded against its name for throughput and lease fees for the same month of December of 2015.

For Associated Maritime Services (AMS) that operates in Delta ports owed about $314,000.00 while Greenleigh Ports Services Nigeria Limited whose license has been revoked due to non-performance, owed a total of $1.512, 477.70 for lease and throughput fees.

For lease, throughput fees and payment of some movable assets, Ecomarine Terminal operating in the Calabar Port Complex owed a total of $23,187,599.43 in the period under review. Besides the indebtedness of Intels in Onne and Delta ports, it also owed the government by virtue of its operation in Calabar a total $774,215.30 as at December of 2015.

The sum of $995, 093.78 was also recorded against Shoreline Logistics Nigeria Limited as at December 2015. Commenting on the development, a logistics expert, Mr. Lucky Amiwero said that the amount could be more than that as there are no agencies monitoring their activities, including the financial returns of these terminal operators.

He suggested that the terminal operators must be made to give proper accounts of their activities for the years they have operated the ports.

Also commenting on the matter, another logistics expert, Dr. Alban Igwe said that the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority should be blamed for the development adding that there is a contractual agreement with the terminal operators.

“These operators are not operating on their own; they did not just get into the ports and started operating. The Nigerian Ports Authority is the landlord to the various port operators, they should be able to collect their dues as at when due except these fees have been converted to credit facilities. We have to investigate the matter and if it is a credit facility given to terminal operators to operate more efficiently or that it was due to inefficiency of NPA that has made it unable to collect the debt owed by the concessionaires.”

He explained that port services has two dimensions, which include the international and the local, adding that if the state of the port is in dire need of infrastructure, it will affect cargo throughput and bring about cargo diversion.

In an effort to get comments from the NPA, its spokesman, Captain Ihenacho Ebubeogu, General Manager in charge of Public Affairs department of the authority asked that Financial Vanguard text the enquiry to him so as to get more detailed information from the accounts department. But as at the time of writing the report, there was no response. Speaking in defence of Intels, Mr. Sambol Isidore said that he was not aware of any indebtedness of Intels to NPA adding that if anybody was owing, it will be NPA that would be indebted to Intels.

“As far as our records show, NPA owe us a lot, we have a lot to reconcile with NPA, because I cannot believe that Intels is operating somewhere and is owing lease fee. “Besides, the accounts reconliation is an on-going process between the parties. “On the throughput, fees are calculated based on volumes and that was why we kept talking about oil and gas cargo. “When they give the lease, assumptions are made over the period of the lease and if all things go well the accruable lease fees can be calculated.

“We keep talking about oil and gas cargo, that was the point we were making, our terminal is for oil and gas. If we don’t have the throughput coming into our port, how do we make the money to pay NPA?” Efforts to reach Mr. Muyiwa, spokesman for Sifax Group, owners of Port and Cargo Handling Services Limited was futile as his phone was switched off when Financial Vanguard called. Speaking in defence of Ecomarine, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke said that the firm has paid all its dues to NPA.

Anaroke explained that the Compliance and Monitoring Committee from the NPA commended the firm for being up to date with their payment. When the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello was contacted for comments, he was said to be unavailable as he was out of the country.

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