NPA Moves To Improve Patronage Of Rivers And Other Southern Eastern Ports

By Stephen Ubanna

Nyensom Wike,  Rivers state governor  who is not happy that the  Rivers seaport built in the heart of Port Harcourt city,  has been deliberately abandoned by President Muhammadu’s government to rot  can now heave a sigh of relief.

 This is  because Mohammeed  Bello –Koko, Managing Director , Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, after a recent tour of the south eastern port,   aimed  at’’ familiarizing the  management  with state of infrastructural facilities  has  given his words  to proffer  solutions  to areas of challenges in order to attract more  ocean going vessels to the port’’.

Until the NPA  Chief Executive Officer, CEO, and his management team, took the bold initiative to boost the state of infrastructural facilities at the Rivers  port, Wike  was  said to have asked Nigerians ‘’to  put pressure   on the Katsina state born Nigerian President to force him  to give a  matching order  to NPA, to revive the abandoned  rivers port’’.

Rivers Port Abandoned By NPA Over The Years

 He had  repeatedly said that ‘’the inactivity of the Rivers port,   is the reason  why Trans Amadi Industrial layout in the state   is no longer what it used to be  anymore, noting that  even the Onne seaport which  is a free trade zone  had collapsed because it was also been abandoned by the government.   He is optimistic that if the Rivers port could be revived by the government, most of the Multi-national Companies which had left the state would be forced to come back to state resume production.

Adamu Michael, the  Rivers port Manager  may have painted a gory image  of the state of infrastructural facilities and why ocean going vessels are coming to the port as expected  to poor state of infrastructural facilities.  The rivers port, which is made up of PortHarcourt Quay, with length of 1,259 meters, according to informed sources is capable of accommodating at least eight modern ocean -gong vessels leading and discharging at the same time if revived.

In spite of the strategic location of the  Rivers port in one of  the world’s  largest   oil production regions, creating the tanker market   being witnessed  at the Federal ocean terminal through  the Bonny  Fairway Buoy, it cannot be compared  to the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tin -can Island  in terms of  vessel traffic and volume  of business.

Investigations by the Value News shows that the vessel traffic to the Rivers port had remained below 500 yearly over the last five years. Take for instance, in 2017, vessel traffic through the port was said to be 312, with a Gross Registered Tonnage of 32,932,784, while that of   Tin-can Island port was 1,350 vessels with GRT OF 41,477,915.

As a prelude to the planned revival of the rivers port and other south eastern ports of Delta, in Warri, Delta state and Calabar, Cross river state, and make them more attractive to importers and shipping companies, the Nigerian government was said to have invested huge resources in tugboats, pilot cutters, Navigation systems, upgrade of facilities around the ports in the last couple of years.

 The government was said to have also granted 30%  rebate  for importers and shipping companies patronising  the Rivers  and other south eastern ports to make it more attractive to the importers, by routing   their cargoes  through  the south eastern ports destined for the south eastern states of Anambra, Abia, Eboyi, Enugu and Imo .

A source in  NPA , had told the Magazine that instead of embracing  the opportunity provided for them by the Buhari Administration  at the instance Hajia  Hadiza Bala-Usman, the then Managing Director of NPA,  the importers  have continued  to shun  the south eastern ports including the Rivers port, due  in part  to the high level of insecurity  in the Niger Delta region forcing the government withdraw the incentive.  That much was said by Bello-Koko, the NPA, Managing Director, who had  said the Concessionaires who had managed the incentive  on behalf of the  Authority  aid  ‘’it did not make  good use  of the opportunity’’.

TheNPA, CEO, had asked  that ‘’what is  the essence  of granting  such  tariff relief   for importers and shipping companies  that  was  facilitated by the terminal operators , for ‘’the purpose  of attracting  more vessels to the south eastern  ports  when it could not attract more than four vessels in a month to the Rivers port alone.   

With the  increased fresh pressure on the Nigerian government  by the industry stakeholders to open  up the south eastern ports,  may have encouraged  the Authorities  room to  introduce fresh  set  of tariff relief for importers and shipping companies to encourage them  to patronise the south eaten ports, which the NPA, boss had  said could be lower or higher  than the initial 30  % granted them which they failed to utilize the opportunity  during the Administration of Hajia Bala-Usman.

Giving an insider information on the planned  new tariff relief  for the importers and shipping companies  using the Rivers and other south eastern ports   as part of measures  to increase  the patronage  of the ports,  Bello-Koko,  the NPA, boss,  had said that ‘’the Authority is considering   a tariff relief  that would  percolate  down to the importers, shipping companies and other   users of the south eastern ports, to ensure they increase  the level of  at which  they use  its infrastructural facilities  that are idle  and further enhance the port ‘  level of  their monthly and yearly revenue generation’’.

The importance attached to the revival of the Rivers port because of its strategic importance to the nation’s oil sector, may have informed  why the NPA, helmsman  who could not hide his feelings had said that  the Authority is considering  ‘’the seriousness  it attaches   to boosting of the   vessel traffic  and activities at the ports had informed why it empanelled  a Committee, which is expected  submit its report  the management  next month  for consideration  and implementation. He noted that the tariff relief that may be  approved for the importers and shipping companies this time around   would be in the region of  about 30%.

Perhaps, to encourage the  importers and the multi-national shipping companies to put their vessels on the route to the south eastern  ports , which is begging for patronage may  have given the Bello  -Koko, led NPA , management room to  take a decision ‘’to   dredge  the port channels to  boost their draft’’.

Maritime analysts had said that NPA, management should go a step further by ‘’marketing the south eastern ports to importers and the shipping companies about the reduction in the charges for cargoes at the ports to encourage them to patronise the ports.

They averred that  NPA, on its own  cannot compel  importers  and the  shipping companies to route their cargoes and ships through the south eastern ports, noting that  ‘’the importers are at liberty  to route  their cargoes  through whichever  port they  like’’, meaning the Rivers port and other  south eastern ports would continue to be  underutilized.

 This is a big challenge the port Managers at the various south eastern ports and their marketing staff to intensify their efforts to market their ports to attract more importers and shipping companies.


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