The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has explained reasons why the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) was not part of the port concession review process.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman explained that the NSC was not involved in the port concession review process because the contract agreement was between the NPA and the concessionaires.
According to the NPA MD, “The NSC was not involved in the port concession review process because the agreement was between the NPA and the concessionaires, and there is also sanctity in contractual relationship that will not be required to be disclosed. So due to this, the NSC was not involved in the port concession review process.”
On the review itself, Hadiza Bala Usman revealed that the stage is set for the signing of the reviewed port concession agreement. In her words, “We got technical support from the World Bank in form of technical aid to facilitate the know-how on international best practice as it relates to the review of the port concession agreement. We have also worked with the World Bank to engage the respective concessionaires because the review of the port concession is not one-sided. Each terminal operator has been invited and they have provided their list of issues. We have had sessions with the terminal operators to look at the issues and determine what needs to be done on both sides, that is by the Authority and the terminal operators.
“We have developed supplemental agreements which have been sent to each of the concessionaires for them to look at and revert back to us, and they have done that. Where we are now is that we are looking at the respective areas of rebate around some of our obligations that we have not met. For example, in the initial concession agreement, we had made provision for a depth of draft for certain terminal, which the NPA has not provided. So that will necessitate into possibly an extension of the lease or a review of certain payments that will be made to us. We are also trying to make it across board, so that every terminal operator will get a commensurate review or response to their issues in the same manner.
“So if some terminals have issues of draft limitation, then they will all have similar rebate granted to them. If there are issues of encumbrance, like in instances where lands that were part of the concession were not taken over by the terminal operator, that will result in looking at the lease for the land that was given to the terminal operator.
“This is where we are currently. We have reached an advance stage. The World Bank adviser is working with us. In fact, the challenge that we have now is that he has finished his assignment based on what the World Bank asked him to do, but we need him to take us to the next level, which is the signing of the agreement.
“Indeed, the concessionaires were always a bit concerned when the NPA says it is reviewing the concession agreement because they thought it will be one-sided, but bringing the World Bank in as a Technical Adviser really helped us change that impression.
“Government and the NPA has not met up to certain obligations, the concessionaires too have not met up to certain obligations. We want to put a mechanism in place, which is, going forward, once any party fails to meet up with its obligations, there is a penalty. Even if a new government comes, the mechanism should remain. The era, where a terminal operator is given an extension of lease for issues concerning depth of draft while another terminal operator with similar problems, doesn’t get same rebate because of lack of connections, is over.”