The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has reassured the Federal Government that the agency is positioned to turn around the fortunes and gains of the economy aside the oil and gas sector, saying that the sector can be second to none in foreign exchange earnings for the federal government.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi gave the assertion last week at a two day event put together by Maritime Correspondents Organisation of Nigeria (MARCON) in Lagos.
Habib who was represented by the General Manager, Public Affairs, NPA, Captain Iheanacho Ebubuogu explained that ports efficiency as a catalyst for economic growth is germane to the Federal Government’s drive for economic revival through non-oil revenue resources.
“It is envisaged that with the recovery of global economy and the stimulation of Nigerian industries and consequent exports, the Nigerian ports will be poised to catalyze the economic growth of Nigeria, and be second to none in foreign exchange contribution to the Federal Government’s coffers,” the MD stated.
According to him, the agency has continually made efforts to re-position the organization in line with global trends and in order to enhance the growth of the nation’s economy, pointing out that the Federal Government of Nigeria embarked on a comprehensive port industry reform initiative for better performance.
“The desire was to build a robust and responsive economy that will have the private sector as its back bone,” he said.
He recalled that at inception, Nigerian seaports were owned, operated and regulated by the NPA before the concession in accordance with its enabling Act and the system did not allow for fast port development and therefore reduced operational efficiency.
The NPA frontman maintained that the role and contribution of private operators were grossly stifled and private investments into the industry were limited.
According to him,the turnaround time of vessels in the Nigerian Ports was high thus there was low labour productivity as well as low level of vessel and cargo traffic.
“The period was the height of cumbersome and long traffic procedures; the ports were congested and were on the centralized administration.
“These conditions ensured that Nigerian is not aligned to global trend of port management and lost its competitive edge,” he said.
Habib added stressed the need for ports reform in the country, which according to him , has resulted to increase the efficiency of Port operation and to reduce the cost of port services.
He also said it has boost economic activities and accelerate development which in turn has made Nigeria the hub for maritime trade in West and Central Africa.
The Managing Director also stated that it has reduced the out flow of funds from limited government resources.
“Ports all over the world are veritable gateways to the economies of nations that are fortunate to have them.
“With 853 kilometers of coastline, six major ports of varying specializations, ongoing development of green-field port infrastructure and other maritime facilities, the Nigerian Ports is indeed a gateway to the Nigerian Economy.
“Being a modal point through which Nigeria’s international trade transits, the efficiency or otherwise of the ports can make or mar the fortunes of the Nigerian economy.
“The price of imported goods in the Nigerian market, and the competitiveness of Nigerian exports in the internal market is highly influenced by the efficiency of the logistics and ports services applied to the shipment of the goods,” the NPA MD said.
“It is in recognition of this special status of the ports to the national economy that past administrations over the years have embarked on various measures to reform the port industry aimed at raising its efficiency level on a par with global standards.
“Consequently we have seen the commercialization initiative of the late ‘90s, the subsequent administrative restructuring, and the prevailing Concession of port facilities.
“The measure of port efficiency is derived from level of service delivery, customer satisfaction and visible multiplier effect of value added services on the industry and national economy.
“Hence the key performance indicators of ports are globally acknowledged to be: ship waiting time, ship’s time in port or at berth, ship turn-round time, cargo dwell time, cargo throughput channel and quay draft,” he said.
Speaking further on performance indicator of the ports, he added that “equipment and craft availability port community network ease of business processes”.
The NPA boss disclosed the Nigerian Ports Authority’s scorecard has been commendable, but reaffirmed that there are still more milestones to cover.
“It is envisaged that with the recovery of global economy and the stimulation of Nigerian industries and consequent exports, the Nigerian ports will be poised to catalyze the economic growth of Nigeria, and be second to none in foreign exchange contribution to the Federal Government’s coffers,”the NPA MD stated.
Habib however, reassured all stakeholders in the sector that his management is committed to the realization of the vision to make the nation’s seaports the leading port in Africa.
“We shall continue at all times to remain focused on making our ports efficient and customer friendly,” he concluded.