26 February 2017, Lagos — THE House of Representative Committee on Ports, Harbour and Waterways has said that the recent extension granted some concessionaires was an under the table deal vowing to probe it and correct any anomaly.
In an interview, the Committee Chairman, Dr. Patrick Asadu said that the extension granted concessionaires will not go without being probed.
Asadu who spoke at the just concluded retreat held for members of the Committee said that the leadership of the National Assembly has asked the Committee to do a holistic probe with a view to saving time and money.
He explained that the House raised the issue and decided that a thorough investigation be carried out with a view to knowing how monies realised from the port reform exercise was spent.
He said “The House itself decided to take the issue to a level where it was raised on the floor, and a decision was taken by the whole House that a thorough investigation be carried out on how the port reform exercise was done, how much was realized from the entire exercise and how these monies managed or mismanaged.
“In the course of our investigation, the leadership of the House got wind of what happened and decided to carry out a holistic investigation on the issue.”
“Is it true that there was port concession extension and how was it done?”
It would be recalled that the concession extension granted six port terminal operators generated controversy among stakeholders in the maritime industry, with many alleging that the extension did not follow due process.
Confirming the extension, the General Manager in charge of Public Affairs department of the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA), Captain Ihenacho Ebubeogu, said that ENL Tin-Can Island Container Port, (TICT), Josephdam, Port and Cargo, African Maritime Services, Port Terminal Operators Limited, (PTOL) and Ecomarine Marine in Calabar in Cross River State have been granted extension of their concession for another five years each.
The reason given for the extension ranges from the fact that some encumbered areas were noticed in some terminals just as wrong surveys was also done in some of these terminals. Other reasons are the computation of throughput on export laden and empty containers and relocation of a terminal.
The NPA, it is being argued, has reneged on the terms of agreement it entered into with the concessionaires. In the agreement, NPA was supposed to provide power, security, water and other sundry services but as at the time of filing this report, virtually all the terminal operators provide these services for themselves.
Commenting on the development, the Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC), Mallam Aminu Diko said that the Commission was aware of the fact that extensions were granted to some terminal operators.
Diko also said that the Commission was not part of the extension process, adding that the regulatory commission was studying the situation and that appropriate action will be taken in due course.
According to Diko, there are processes for extension of concession period as well as for new concessions.
“We were not part of any extension of concession period for some terminals because we were not aware of it” he added.
“If NPA does not bring it to our notice, we will not know about it except we stumble on the information like in the case of the one in question. We are aware that five concessions were extended by the National Council for Privatisation and as you know, the NCP is being headed by the office of the Vice President. What we intend to do is to ask for all the documents relating to the extension and see what was done.”
He disclosed that the concessions were extended by the National Council for Privatisation, (NCP) and that the Council is domiciled in the office of the Vice President. The extension was granted to the terminal operators at the tail end of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Diko also disclosed that the ICRC has called for the document relating to the extension. Asked what the Commission will do if the extension was found to have been done in a haphazard manner, Diko said: “We will cross the bridge when we get there.”