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NPA can’t force importers to use any particular Port—-Koko

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Abiola Seun

The Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said that shipment of cargoes to Eastern Ports of Warri, Calabar, Portharcourt and others solely depends on importers.

He added that the authority has no right to dictate on the port of destination of imports.

He said that NPA has put in place measures to encourage the usage of other ports in Nigeria, but cannot force  importers to ship their cargoes to the ports

“What we did first was to provide incentives for shipping lines for operations at ports of Calabar, Warri and Rivers.
“We gave most to Calabar and Delta. The idea here was to take their vessels into those locations.

” That has worked a bit, we also specified the kind of vessels that would come in and get those discounts.
“We had stakeholders’ engagement to encourage importers to take their vessels to those locations.
“We provided more marine services to those locations.
“But the usage of those ports depends on the importer. You cannot force an importer to take his goods to Calabar or Warri.

“For instance, a lot of the cargo coming in, the usage of the cargo is in Lagos, so there must be enough incentives for the importer to take his cargo to Warri and then bring it back to his factory in Lagos.

“Some of the issues revolve around the roads also; one cannot import to Calabar and bringing it back to Lagos becomes difficult. We had to write to the Ministry of Works concerning Ikom bridge to encourage people to use Calabar Port.

“Calabar Port is the nearest to the Northeast of the country. So, if we encourage the use of that port, it means that all imports going to the Northeast pass through Calabar.

“The problem there is that it has the longest channel and passing through the channel is very expensive. We are encouraging the use of those ports and we are giving incentives to the shipping companies to bring in their goods to those ports.”

The MD, while reacting to traffic gridlock along Lagos ports access roads, said  massive investment that had revitalised the Nigerian Railway Corporation was a “game changer” in the maritime sector.
“I must commend President Muhammadu Buhari for investing so much into reviving Railway transportation. It is really exciting that he has focused on that key sector of the economy.
“I want to particularly thank him for the recent completion of the rail system into Apapa port. We believe it is a game changer.
“We have been working with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to see how Cargo can be evacuated. The interest is to see how cargo can get all the way to the inland dry port.
“There are meetings taking place between the West African Container Terminals in Onne and APMT; this is to assist those inland containers to ensure that it reduces double charges once the cargo comes in.
“The one in APMT, we are hoping to start moving cargo inland by train. This has started but we are working with Nigerian Railway Corporation to give the right window so that once the train comes, the cargo is loaded into the right train without delay.
“There are discussions going on as well to see that railway system gets into Tin can eventually. That is the responsibility of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
“They have taken some trains to a few terminals for test run.
“The fact that the railway is already in the port has made the problem half solved.
“But they need to do a survey to find out what buildings need to come down to create space for the train. The ports are very old, they were not planned for a train going round all the terminals,” he said

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