Nigeria’s port concessionaires ‘unserious’ operators —Senate committee

•Threatens to terminate unfavourable agreements

The Senate Committee on Customs and Excise has stated that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), concessioned the seaports to some very unserious private operators.

Speaking at Apapa Port Command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), on Thursday, as part of its efforts in probing the service, chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodimma, wondered why the maritime concessionaires were waiting for the Customs to buy scanners at the ports.

According to him, “Talking about faulty scanners at the ports, the Customs has no business under the law to replace or buy scanners. This is the responsibility of the terminal operators. By the CEMA Act, Section 31, it is the responsibility of the terminal operators, to provide facilities at the ports. Why are they not asking Customs to buy cranes at the ports? Why are they not asking Customs to but forklift at the ports?

“Unfortunately, the Federal Government concessioned out our seaport terminals to some of the most very unserious private operators.

“Therefore, it is time for the government to take a review of the ports concession that was made in 2006.

“We are going to look at the performance of all the terminal operators and those found not to have performed will have their concession agreements terminated.

“This will lead to the emergence of more serious minded private operators.”

He said at the airports, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) provides scanners for Customs operations, since FAAN is the operator of the airport, the same position the terminal operators occupy, now at the seaports since the NPA has handed over the operation of the seaports during the ports concession of 2006.

“We were in Singapore and we saw how the terminal operators were competing to hit one million containers handling per month.

“The terminal operators in Singapore provides enabling environment for their Customs. Why can’t we do the same in Nigeria? We must say No to all this anomalies so that the country can move forward,” he said.

On the controversial Auto policy regime, Senator Uzodinma explained that, the policy will be reviewed.

“On the Auto policy that is making Nigerian bound cargoes to go to neighbouring  ports, we are going to review it. We know it is because of the 35 per cent that is forcing many importers to go to neighbouring ports like Cotonou and Lome.

“That 35 percent is the problem that is causing smuggling and it is not in favour of Nigeria but foreigners. So we will prevail on government to remove it,” he stated.