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NPA Bello-Koko appears before Senate Committee, explains unremitted $852m, N1.8bn

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By Bisi LAWAL

 

The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-Koko has absolved the agency of any wrongdoing in the alleged unremitted $852m and N1.8bn from private operators.

Bello-Koko blamed the situation on faulty concession agreement signed by the Federal Government in 2006 when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Appropriations alongside Executive Director Finance & Administration, Adenrele Adesina, and AssistantGeneral Manager Budget.

The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had in the 2019 Audit Report, alleged that NPA did not collect remittances which amounted to $852m and N1.8bn from terminal operators.

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, on the strength of the audit queries against NPA on Tuesday, directed its Managing Director, Mohammed Bello-Koko, and other management staff, to appear before it unfailingly within 48 hours.

The Managing Director of NPA explained that the lump sums of $852m and N1.8bn, raised in the queries, were an accumulation of unremittances from private port operators who came on board through 2006 concession agreement.

He explained that faulty concession agreements signed with the private operators by the Federal Government in 2006, largely accounted for the unremittances NPA is being held responsible for today.

Bello-Koko said, “The $852m and N1.8bn unremittance by private operators to NPA, are largely caused by faulty concession agreements the Federal Government signed with them in 2006 when the ports were concessioned.

“The concession agreements were faulty in the sense that some of the operators are facing encumbrances in different ways to cover the space concessioned for them which also encumbered them to remit what is due from them to NPA.

“The encumbrances in question range from the inaccessibility of some portions of areas leased, by concessionaire, communal encumbrance and volume change or turnage amount.”

He told the committee members that the Federal Government that signed the concession agreement with the private operators even contributed to encumbrances faced by the concessionaires at the beginning by not removing structures that belonged to it from the right of way of the affected concessionaires.

The NPA MD added, “Out of the $852m, going by our in-house assessment, $504m are accumulated unremitted levies due to encumbered areas.

“However, we have been able to recover $232.2m and N269.4m from the N1.8bn.

“We have gotten consultancy from the World Bank for review of the concession agreements which would be free from any form of encumbrances, ” he added.

On the outstanding debts of $ 67.45 million and N32.266bn, the NPA boss told the committee members that the debts were not incurred by the NPA but by the defunct Nigerian Shippers Councils whose debtors are no longer traceable.

Bello-Koko further disclosed that the collapsed breakwaters in Escravos, Delta State would be fixed by year 2024.

Escravos Breakwaters play major role in the provision of nautical access for vessels to Warri, Koko and Sapele Ports in Delta State but collapsed over the years has been greatly responsible for shallowness of the Channel.

However through his official X-handle, Bello-Koko said “Remarkably, in 2024, we hope to start the port modernization process for the existing ports and fix the breakwaters at Escravos.

“This is paramount as it will help us in achieving maximum port efficiency, improving cargo handling capabilities, and reducing the turn-around time of vessels

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aliyu Wadada, directed the agency to furnish the committee with its financial statement and way out for the government to write off the legacy debts.

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