16 December 2016, Lagos – Maritime activities closed on Friday with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) saying the nation’s ports are ready to absorb increase in imported vehicles expected from government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders.
The Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, gave the indication in Lagos to mark her 100 days in office.
She said that some of the dwindling vehicle traffic experienced were due to government’s policy on importation of cars.
The managing director said that the authority had put the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure the additional traffic would not constitute any bottleneck.
“We would up what has been in existence before. We are ready to take increase in traffic of vehicles and other cargoes,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes her as saying.
NAN reports that the Federal Government recently announced a ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders with effect from Jan. 1, 2017.
Usman said the ports authority was also working to recover huge debts of more than 10 years running into 585 million dollars (N178.42 billion).
The managing director said there was also additional debts of N10 billion.
According to her, some of the debts are considered as bad debts but we need to go through the legal processes of classifying them as bad debts and take them out of our books.
“We have developed a framework on debt collection.
“We want to reconcile a proper position of what our indebtedness is,’’ NAN quotes Usman as saying.
The managing director said the Management was also working on the terminal operators to pay all debts they had accrued over the years.
She said some of the terminal operators’ debts were classified as bad debt, adding that the NPA could only see them as such if due legal process had been followed.
Usman said that NPA’s N400 million trapped in Aso Savings and another 19 million dollars in Heritage Bank would be recovered.
She said that some debts accrued through lease agreements and tenancy payments.
Usman said the authority might revoke some of the land allocation because the lessees did not have access to the lands.
“The lessees have to take possession, we should not lease a land that is encumbered,’’ she said.
“It might not be a valid lease because the lessees are not able to take possession of the property,’’ the managing director said.
“We also have debts from lease agreements, tenancy payments that have accrued over the years. The NPA has a process of continued billing the leasing of lands that those it leased them to have no access to the properties.
“When an agency leases a property to you and you have no access to the property how do you pay. The NPA continued to bill the entities and considered it as debt.
“We are looking at reverting some of the lease allocations because the fundamental to leasing is that the lessee has to be able to take possession. You cannot lease a land that is encumbered.
“We have identified the leases that are encumbered by encroachment and other factors. We will remove that aspect of the debt from what is being owed the NPA, ‘’she said.
The managing director also threatened legal action against some firms that collected money on behalf of the agency and failed to remit same through the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Usman warned INTELS Nigeria Ltd and others to comply with the terms of payment into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Federal Government.
“No entity will stand in the way of the NPA in complying with the TSA.
“We have given INTELS a timeline to revert, to ensure that we collect the monies.
“To the extent that they (INTELS) are not complying with what has been stipulated by the Federal Government on TSA, ‘’ she said.
She said the NPA had notified all operators in the industry that no one had the right to collect revenue and keep same in his coffers on behalf of government.
“We have put in place the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which we have communicated to leading players like Intels Ltd. We have given them timelines and we expect them to revert to us so that we can commence implementation.
“We have told them to begin to pay directly to the government, ‘’ Usman said.
The managing director added that the authority was concluding its 2017 budget and had signed onto budget transparency, making the NPA budget available to everyone in the world.
“We are increasing the percentage of capital provision from what obtained in 2016.
“We are also going to procure pilot cutters, tug boats as provided for in the 20167 budget,’’ NAN quotes her as saying.
She said the Management would also look for a proper structure of Public Private Participation (PPP) structure for the towage services.
Usman said that NPA was also looking at PPP in the area of dry docking, adding that the initiative would generate huge employment and revenue for the government.
She said that on dry-docking, the NPA Management would take into consideration the personnel, adding that having vessels dry-docked in Nigeria would be a huge employment and revenue generation drive.
Usman said that NPA had been leading in terms of compliance with International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
She said the Management received the U.S, Coast Guards, who came to assess the situation we have in our ports, adding that they would come back in February.
The managing director said the Management had communicated to the terminal operators and they were all compliant on ISPS Code.
She said the Management acknowledged the need to work with other government agencies for the success of the Federal Government, in drumming the reform beyond “stand alone’’ and trying to achieve in isolation of others.
She said that this would facilitate and provide seamless interaction between the agencies.
Usman said that to this effect, NPA had been working with the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“This is important as we move toward operational efficiency. We are also careful of avoiding duplicity and overlap.
“Governance should be seamless and less bureaucratic,’’ NAN quotes the managing director as saying.
She said that the Command and Control Centre of NPA would highlight security concerns, adding that the centre had been useful in providing data about security of vessels.
Usman said that Dangote Group and Flour Mills Plc had been working on the Apapa port road but NPA had been waiting to submit the final drawing to the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, taking into consideration the need for drainage.
She said that the rehabilitation of the Creek Road, Apapa, had also been built into the 2017 budget of NPA.
The managing director said that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had confirmed that the completion of the trailer park would be within year 2017.
According to her, there would be an electronic system by the World Bank whereby trailer drivers would meet at the holding bays.
“The holding bays and trailer parks would be operated by the private sector,’’ NAN quotes Usman as saying.