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Development of deep seaports to make Nigeria maritime hub — Bello-Koko 

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Abiola Seun

The Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA) has disclosed that Nigeria’s maritime industry accounts for 70% of cargo trade in West and Central Africa, adding that the development of deep seaports could be a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Acting Managing Director of the NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko in Lagos at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of directors, themed “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence,” according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

The NPA boss revealed that investing in Nigeria’s deep seaports will enable Nigeria become the number one maritime commerce hub in the region and a major player in Africa.

Bello-Koko said, “Nigeria accounts for about 70% of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement.

“This was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat with the theme ‘To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa.’”

He urged the newly appointed board to actualize some of its goals and objectives, which he says he is optimistic about, citing recent interventions made by the authority which had led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.

He added that challenges facing the regulator were caused by “externalities and variables” that required concerted inter-agency actions.

“NPA, despite dogged efforts, has yet to optimally achieve the said benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and red-tape, adding issues related to conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the ports and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplications of functions.
“We are facing decaying port infrastructure. For example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at the Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar Ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.
“With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities.
“There is then the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings,” he stated.
He added the NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones, mostly allocated but burdened by poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the authority and the Federal Government.

“Management will need the support of the board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualise the lofty aspirations of the authority,” he said.

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