NPA speaks on commitment to ensuring patronage of Eastern Ports

MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has restated its commitment to the optimum utilisation of the Eastern Ports in line with government’s policy on the ease of doing business.
Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, while hosting members of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee on Ports and Habours at the Marina, Lagos head office of the Authority, said that the NPA Management was working with all relevant stakeholders to deal with challenges that hamper patronage of the Ports.

She said that some of the issues that discourage vessel owners from patronising the Eastern Ports include: the level of insecurity on the waterways, shallow depths, which hinders the movement of big vessels as well as the problems of poor access roads and rail linkages to Ports in these areas.

On the issues of draught limitations, Bala Usman explain that following the approval of the contract by the Federal Executive Council last year, dredging works have been completed on moving the Warri channel draft to 7.5m while consultants have been engaged to advise on level of investments needed to improve the infrastructural capacity of the port in Port Harcourt.

While noting that the Onne Ports currently function at full capacity, the Managing Director informed the meeting that the NPA has granted all requisite approvals for the construction of the Lekki Deep Sea Port for which development has started.

She said that the Authority was awaiting response from the promoters of the Badagry Deep Sea Port to enable conclusion on the final outline business case for the project.

She said that the maritime industry was becoming increasingly disposed to patronising Deep Sea Ports, which allows for big vessels and aid economies of scales and that Nigeria would only assure its future market share in the industry with the development of Deep Sea Ports.

On security, the Managing Director explained that the NPA was purchasing patrol boats and working with the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Port Police Command to combat crimes on the nation’s waterways and assured that progress is being made on this front.

Concerning Port access roads nationwide, she explained that the NPA has drawn a basket of such roads across the country and written to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the need to prioritise the rehabilitation of these roads.

She noted that the ministry has commenced implementation of this process with the recent award of the construction of Ikom Bridge, which is a key road connecting Cross River State to the North Eastern part of the country,  and expressed optimism that steps taken would provide better linkages to the hinterland and attract more business to the Eastern Ports.

Chairman of the Ad-hoc committee, Hon. Buba Yakub had earlier explained that the committee was on a fact-finding mission on reasons the Eastern Ports were not working as optimally as the Western Ports and how much that affects national development.

Yakub noted that the assignment would take his committee round the Ports, and at the end of the day, generate a blue print that would improve patronage at the Eastern Ports and prevent agitations from host communities.