The absence of an economic regulator to effectively supervise the concession regime and the non-passage of the relevant laws to further encourage private sector investment in the maritime sector have been identified as the key obstacles to effective and efficient operations of the nation’s ports.
The observation was made by the Port Reform Evaluation Committee (PREC) in its report submitted to the Minister of Transport, Yusuf Suleiman.
The Chairman of the Committee, Barrister Chidi Ilogu, in his address made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, also identified other obstacles such as poor accessibility to and within the ports, with indiscriminate parking of trucks and uncontrolled human and vehicular traffic.
According to him, “the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports has continued to increase due to the persistence of accessibility challenges and the attendant/associated poor turnaround time and high demurrage.
“Overall, the present state of the terminals, particularly, the development and modernisation of physical infrastructure, facilities, equipment water front security and safety and human capital development are a far cry from what is needed to improve the ports attractiveness as preferred destinations. This has compromised the nation’s aspirations of being a regional Maritime hub”, Ilogu noted.
The Committee also established that the absence of an economic regulator has precluded effective regulation of the concessionaires, stressing that several operators lack the requisite indigenous technical/professional manpower and have failed to substantially comply with the Terms of Agreement.
It also said that about six of the concessionaires have made no appreciable development to their terminals, saying that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as a technical regulator performed unsatisfactorily, as it demonstrated not only limited capacity but also poor corporate governance culture as the organization failed to keep its side of the Agreement, particularly as it affects dredging of water channels to their advertised draughts, provision and adequate maintenance of Port access and common user roads.
The Committee is of the opinion that if faithfully implemented its recommendations will contribute tremendously in harnessing the abundant potentials of the marine sub-sector for the benefit of the Nigerian economy and welfare of Nigerian.