Terminal operators, under aegis of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), have lauded the bold steps taken by the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to address factors militating against efficient port operations.
STOAN, the umbrella body of operators, popularly known as concessionaires, said it supports the planned review of the concession agreement and other initiatives of the present management of the NPA.
The Spokesperson for STOAN, Bolaji Akinola, yesterday, said: “As the NPA has stated several times, the concession agreement is subject to intermittent reviews. This has also been the position of STOAN. The review will address unforeseen developments and challenges encountered in the system. We support it. We also support all the steps she has taken so far. We are on the same page as far as our ports are concerned. The abiding interest, which should, as a matter of fact, be the interest of every Nigerian, is making Nigerian ports the best in Africa and among the best in the world.”
The association also said it was working with the Hadiza Bala Usman-led NPA management, and other relevant agencies of the Federal Government, to address certain government policies, which are diverting cargoes away from Nigerian ports.
“We must commend Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman for taking time to tour and assess the ports upon assumption of office in order to appreciate the issues at hand. We are aware also that she has accessed the state of the port access roads and have promised to ensure that government fixes those roads as soon as possible. This is certainly highly commendable and it shows that the present government is a listening government.
“We are also aware of the meeting between her and the Comptroller-General of Customs to refine and simplify the cargo clearing system at the port. These are genuine efforts that must not pass unappreciated,” STOAN said.
The association appealed to the Federal Government to address the issue of high import duty on imported vehicles and the restriction of 41 items from the official foreign exchange window of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of measures to attract cargo to the port.
“The ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders will be more effective with a corresponding slash in the tariff of vehicles. The sure way to check smuggling is to accompany the ban with a slash in Customs duty to bring it to par with what obtains in the ports of Cotonou, and other ports in the sub-region,” it stated.
STOAN said since the ports were concessioned in 2006, significant progress had been made in ensuring prompt service delivery, quick turnaround time of vessels and improved welfare of dockworkers, among others.
“We assure the NPA MD and the Federal Government of our full support always in implementing the change agenda and bringing about the dividends of democracy to Nigerians,” the association added.