11 March 2016, Lagos — One of the concessionaires in the nation’s seaports, Integrated Logistics Services Limited (INTELS) has made $8.1 billion investment in the nation’s seaports. The concessionaire, which is the terminal operator in Onne, Rivers State; Warri, Delta State and Calabar, Cross River State, took over the day-to-day running of ports following the conclusion of the concession programme during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
However, INTELS, which has Mr Simone Volpi as its managing director, said in a statement obtained by THISDAY that the company has invested $8.1 billion in Nigerian ports in the past 10 years.
Within the period under review, the terminal operator also disclosed that it has remitted $176.1 million (about N35.2 billion) into the federation account.
The company also revealed that it has provided hundreds of direct and indirect employment opportunities to Nigerians since it started operations in the country,
Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has laid to rest the lingering controversy over the disputed classification of INTELS as oil and gas terminals.
THISDAY had reported that the terminals at Onne, Warri and Calabar were designated as oil and gas facilities which government said should receive all oil and gas related cargo. But other terminal operators kicked against this declaration which they considered as most unfair and biassed capable of creating a monopoly in the ports.
Those opposed to INTELS argued that since they all signed a concession agreement with the federal government through NPA, designating one of them as oil and gas cargo-dedicated to handling this type of cargo will not only create a monopoly but is also capable of running them out of business.
They all challenged the designation, claiming there was no such agreement which confers such special status to INTELS outside the general concession agreement. Other affected terminals took the matter to court in a bid to stop the NPA to effect compliance.
However, Amaechi in a recent public announcement declared that if there was an agreement to that effect, the government was bound to obey the agreement.
The contending parties, especially LADOL and INTELS, were trying to validate their respective position as to the existence or otherwise of such agreement, the NPA declared that government indeed had such an agreement with INTELS.
The position of NPA was confirmed by its Executive Director, Marine and Operations, David Omonibeke, who declared that the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) had such an agreement with the INTELS to handle oil and gas cargoes.
Omonibeke disclosed that government discovered that it was losing huge revenue from the general purpose terminals who were allowed under the concession agreement to handle oil and gas cargo.
He declared that due to the low rate of tariff fixed for goods under the agreement, oil pipes and other related instrument meant for an oilfield are being charged a ridiculous amount of one dollar per unit.
He revealed that a similar cargo of the same unit is being handled at $4.4 at the facilities controlled by INTELS.
His words: “So when INTELS approached the government that it can generate more money to government if allowed to handle these specialised cargoes for which they are suitable for, government has no option than to agree to such a proposal because importers of these specialised cargoes exploited the low rate of tariff specified in the concession agreement which makes government incur greater losses, using the general purpose facilities.”
A representative of Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) also confirmed the existence of such an agreement but declared that it will engender monopoly, kill competition and create an uneven playing ground for other parties.
The NSC representative, therefore, urged the government to discard such agreement.
But the minister stated that in as much as there was an agreement which specified INTELS facilities as oil and gas, the government is bound by such an agreement until it expires or tinkered with.
“If indeed there was such agreement that all oil and gas cargoes should be brought to Warri, Onne and Calabar, then it would be wrong to take part of somebody’s job and give it to another person,” Amaechi said.
While warning the other operators of the danger of flouting the agreement, he directed all the parties involved in the controversy to come up with the relevant documents to back up their claims and which he promised to forward to the President for a final resolution.
*John Iwori – Thisday