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Terminal operators lobby lawmakers over threat to revoke ports concession

Following the National Assembly’s threat to revoke some concession agreement granted some terminal operators by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), some of the affected terminal operators have began massive lobbying in Abuja to save their existing contract with the Federal Government.

It will be recalled that two committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Senate Committee on Marine Transport and the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways; have threatened to cancel the concession extension granted nine terminal operators for violation of an already existing contract with the government.

According to a source, many of the affected terminal operators are already in Abuja seeking for ways to resolve the already protracted issue.

“The representatives of the terminal operators are here in Abuja. They have been having series of meetings with the lawmakers. I cannot tell you the stage where they are now, but I can tell you meetings are ongoing,” our Source revealed.

Speaking recently at a joint committee meeting with the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, Dr. Patrick Asadu had said that the fact that former NPA MD, Habib Abdullahi lied to the committee when he was confronted with the alleged concession extension might provoke the National Assembly to seek his arrest.

Some members of the committees were of the opinion that the concession extension granted the maritime concessionaires did not follow due process.

“We do not know why the former Managing Director lied to us to cover up this illegality. I have deep concern over the issue of concession extension. This Committee has a mandate to the people of Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, we called your predecessor and put him on oath and he swore that there was no extension before the committee. I am very bitter about this. You can’t bring in a new rule at the middle of a game. If NPA agrees with the extension, this Committee will not agree.

“This committee will follow up this issue of concession extension, and if NPA agrees with it, then they will have to deal with us,” Asadu stated recently.

The Joint Committee was particularly irked at the fact that the current concession agreements had not ended before new extensions were granted.

The committee said it also discovered that the concession agreements entered into by terminal operators and NPA had not been reviewed in the last 10 years, even when the agreement said it should be reviewed every two years.

Confirming the extension of the concession, Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, told the joint committee that there was, indeed an extension granted to some concessionaires for various reasons.

Usman said some of the extensions were granted due to NPA’s inability to hand over some of the land concessioned to the operators.

She also said tsome of these extensions were granted between 2011 and 2015, suggesting a holistic concession extension.

Efforts to get the Spokesman of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Bolaji Akinola and the associations Chairperson, Princess Vicky Haarstrup  proved abortive as text messages and calls made to their mobile phones were not responded to as at the time of filing in this report.

It will be recalled that in 2014 and 2015, the NPA had granted port concession extensions to some terminal operator’s.