By Stephen Ubanna
The port concession model of the Federal Government that was rolled out in 2006, has been adjudged ‘’the best in Africa’’, so says a team of experts from the World Bank Nigeria Office on a working visit to the Nigerian Ports Authority’s head-office, on Thursday, March 17, 2022.
Reacting to the Bank’s positive assessment during his meeting with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) officials, Mohammed Bello Koko, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, had said that the port concession exercise has clearly enhanced Nigeria’s goal of becoming the leading blue economy in Africa, adding that his administration’s focus is ‘‘to facilitate a port-led industrialization in the country through infrastructural renewal and deployment of modern technology tools’’.
The NPA helmsman had told the delegation from the World Bank Nigeria Office led by Olatunji Ahmed and Christian Mulamula, Principal Investment Officer – Infrastructure (,IFC, that the Authority duly appreciates the excellent support provided by the World Bank under its private participation in infrastructure ,PPI, scheme. “We at NPA fully appreciate that efficient port operations will enable our government and businesses to provide services that are affordable and sustainable, leading to reduced poverty and inequality’’, he had said.
He urged the World Bank and IFC officials, ‘’to sustain the support and synergy especially now that the Authority is in search of alternative sources of funding to bridge its infrastructure gaps’’, particular. “We look forward to better collaboration with the Bank in the development of more mega and deep-sea ports across the country with world class facilities, high quality and efficient operating system, like the Lekki Deep Seaport is now our priority”, he remarked.
He believes that “with the quality of attention being paid by the Nigerian Government to port infrastructural renewal, the Management are very confident that ‘’moving goods to and from the Lagos ports Of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Termina Limited, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal phases I & II and the south east ports of Onne, Rivers, Delta and Calabar, would soon be top of ‘’the range, cost efficient and comparable with the leading ports of the world’’.
W Giving an insider information of the port operations over the last couple of years, he noted that they have made remarkable progress ‘’tackling the intractable traffic gridlock on the port access roads with the deployment of an electronic call-up system for trucks, called “Eto”. He opined that ‘‘there is room for improvement’’. As he put it, ‘’the Apapa axis is good but on the Tin-Can axis we’re calling for a quick fix before the rains”, stressing that this is where the world Bank and the IFC, should come in to assist the Authority.
The NPA Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had informed the World Bank and IFC team, that ‘‘the 25 Year Port Master-plan which had earlier suffered some glitches is now back on course’’, stressing that the Authority will work collaboratively with the Bank in the operationalization of the port master-plan.
Ahmed, a Senior Transport Specialist with the World Bank, had assured the Management of NPA, that the Bank would continue ‘’to partner Nigeria and other interested countries in the African Continent to develop transport infrastructure and services that are safe, green, efficient and inclusive’’. He was particular about the Bank partnership with the Authority over the years and would continue ‘’to provide the assistance to the maritime agency in ‘‘the journey towards becoming the preferred destination of cargo in Africa’’.
The World Bank and IFC delegation were said to have expressed the two global Financial organizations willingness ‘’to work with NPA in the improvement of port infrastructure under a public private partnership arrangement between the Authority and other third parties. They were said to have also requested for a ‘’project tracker report on the actions and milestones recorded in the port concession programme so far’’.
Ahmed, who could not hide his feelings had said that his Office would ‘’assist the Authority in its review of the concession agreements with terminal operators’’ including governance; pricing, operations; transit/exit from the port, traffic management and other key issues, as outlined in the concession framework.
Mulamula, a member of the World Bank Group, had said that the IFC, is set to make an investment in the Lekki Deep Seaport, as it is willing to support the Terminal Operators upgrade their facilities and equipment. He disclosed that the IFC plans ‘‘to invest funds for the rehabilitation of the Tin-Can Island Port as a private participation in infrastructure,PPI, project.
Bello Koko,and the NPA, Management team had met behind closed door with the officials of Bollore Transport and Logistics Nigeria,former SDV Nigeria led by Folashade Akanni-Shelle the company Managing Director.The Bollore delegation were said to have spoken about their company’s eadiness ‘’to expand its logistics facilities across the country, to boost its market share and service offerings in areas like customs releases, warehousing and door-to-door delivery
Akanni-Shelle had made the NPA Management to understand that Bollore Logistics and Services, remains a major operator in transport and logistics across Africa. He had given her words that they hope ‘’to sustain the cordial business relations that have established with the NPA for the benefit of the Nigerian economy”.
Bello Koko, the NPA boss, who could not hide his feelings had assured the Bollore delegations of the Authority’s commitment ‘’to work closely with all its local and international partners’’. He had charged Bollore Management ‘‘to identify likely locations suitable to set up such logistics bases, in particular at the south eastern Ports where such facilities are currently less available’’. The message was very clear to the Bollore Team not to set their attention at the Lagos ports which are begging for space to accommodation for the existing the Companies operating in the port which are expanding their lines of business.