When the appointment was first announced before the end of first half of 2016, several maritime stakeholders felt that the worst has happened to the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) as the first woman, Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman stepped in.
But as days, weeks and months go by, new dawn of efficiency, productivity and seamless due process in the scheme of things started emerging.
Investigations by Business Hilights Economic Research team (BHERT) showed that the key driver of her early exploits on the seat cannot be unconnected with her die-hard believe in reforms and productivity driven by results and instincts to achieve results which she had enacted working with governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El-Rufai, both as a governor and as head of the Bureau Public Enterprise (BPE).
The experiences paid off as according to her in a recent media interactive session with select editor, “In our 12 months, we have made considerable progress and the efforts cut across both our operational and administrative endeavours”.
“We have commissioned the Command and Control, Communication and Intelligence Centre for NPA. This facility will serve as surveillance point for all activities and as an information network centre for security agencies at the ports. In June 2017, we launched the provisional, final billing and customer portal module of Revenue Invoice Management System aimed at improving our service offering, partner relationship; creating efficient payment method, maximising revenue and eradicating loss associated with fraud and revenue leakage.
“To further improve operational efficiency, we recently acquired and commissioned four new tugboats namely MT Daura, MT Ubima, MT Uromi and MT Majiya. Most importantly, we have commenced the process of the review of concession agreements to ensure seamless collaboration for a sustained development of the Maritime industry. This, we believe, will introduce a new dimension in our operations.
“The NPA had, even before the executive order, developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), establishing a dedicated terminal to handle exports aimed at diversifying the economy and improving earnings in line with the mandate of the Federal Government.
Continuing, she said “The dedicated terminals include Ikorodu Lighter Terminal for Lagos, Shoreline Logistics Terminal for Calabar Port, BUA Ports and Terminal (warehouse measuring 2.896sqm) and Port and Terminal Operators Limited (warehouse ‘A’ measuring 2.760sqm) for Rivers Port. All terminals have been mandated to establish dedicated desks to handle all documentations on export, receipt of consignment and the loading of vessels”.
Bala-Usman agreed that “For a long time, the challenge of bad port access roads, which has continually caused untold hardship to both port users and residents of Apapa, has been a recurring decimal. To address this, the authority is conducting a full assessment of all port access roads across the country. Our partnership with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMWH) resulted, in the first instance, in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the FMWH, Dangote Group and Flour Mills for the reconstruction of the Wharf Road in Apapa. The project cost is put at N4.34 billion out of which the NPA is contributing the sum of N1.829 billion”.
“To address the challenge of bureaucratic and chaotic clearance of cargoes, we have, in collaboration with NCS and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), developed the operational framework of establishing the National Single Window, Ports Community System and scanning services. This is aimed at simplifying and harmonising formalities, procedures and the related exchange of information and documents between the various partakers in the port operations value chain.
“Our effort in restoring investor’s confidence in the port industry has also started yielding the desired result with the China Harbour Engineering Company planning to take up 15 per cent shareholding in the Lekki Deep Seaport project. Dubai Port World is negotiating a partnership agreement with Josepdam Port Services while the Tanger Med Port of Morocco is also indicating willingness to develop a green field terminal logistic base.
Continuing in her abridged scorecard presentation, NPA boss assured that “We are confident that these initiatives will result in a more efficient port sector that will favourably compete and ensure we achieve our vision of being the leading port in Africa”.