NPA rolls out plans to make Nigerian ports more competitive on a global scale


By Abiodun OBA


The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has disclosed intimidating plans to ensure Nigerian ports become more competitive on a global scale.

Unveiling the numerous plans, the Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko said NPA is embarking on a significant $1.1 billion port rehabilitation plan starting with the TinCan and Apapa ports in Lagos.

At a panel session during the 43rd PMAWCA (Port Management Association of West and Central Africa) conference held in Lagos, Bello-Koko explained that the objective of the authority is to enhance the physical infrastructure of these ports to accommodate vessels of all sizes and increase the draft at the quay side.

The move he said aims at achieving draft depths of up to 14 meters expressing that the initiative will render Nigerian ports more competitive on a global scale.

The NPA Boss stated further that the NPA is also strengthening collaborations with the private sector to establish new seaports.

He said the Lekki Deep Seaport has already commenced operations, and that the Badagry Deep Seaport recently signed an agreement with a Middle Eastern party, with construction scheduled to commence early next year.

Bello-Koko pointed out that these endeavors exemplify NPA’s determination to create a multimodal transportation system connecting all ports seamlessly.

Recognizing the inefficiencies associated with road-dependent cargo evacuation, he said the NPA is actively working on alternative initiatives which include implementing barges and expanding rail infrastructure. He informed that the rail line has reached Apapa port and will soon extend to TinCan port.

According to him, the survey for deploying cargo rail and tracks to Onne port has been completed, setting the stage for the project to kick off next year.

To streamline operations and reduce costs, Koko informed that the NPA is embracing automation.

He said, “The authority has automated its collection system and is collaborating with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to introduce a state-of-the-art port community system, poised to optimize cargo clearance processes”.

Acknowledging the need for more efficient operations, he said the NPA is working on clarifying the responsibilities of government agencies within the ports with the newly developed port process manual aimed to reduce overlaps and eliminate duplication of duties.

On security, he said deployment of the “Deep Blue Sea” project, equipped with air and sea assets, is enhancing security in the Gulf of Guinea and contributing to a significant reduction in piracy incidents within Nigerian waters, adding that the NPA is collaborating closely with the Nigerian Customs to reduce bottlenecks and cut the cost of doing business within the ports.

Koko also disclosed the development of a 25-year port master plan that will guide the location, sizes, and activities of ports, terminals, and jetties in Nigeria.

He said the master plan will serve as a national working document, uniting all stakeholders towards marine and logistics development.

Speaking earlier, Mr Martin Boguikouma, President PMAWCA, urged African countries to address challenges facing the region to be able to receive the new volume of traffic that would emerge due to AfCFTA

Boguikouma listed ways to solve the challenge as collaboration between customs and port authority to harmonise customs procedures.

“We need to ensure capacity building of all seaport and customs officials, and sensitise them on how to address cross border trade.

“There is a need to work in reducing transport cost, investing in efficient transport infrastructure, and maritime safety through enhanced interstate cooperation,” he said.

He noted Gabon had put in place things that would ensure that free trade becomes a success.

Boguikouma listed some as, signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on facilitation of trade, harmonised customs duty which was very important for AfCFTA.


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