Growing agitations by stakeholders and facts on ground may force the newly inaugurated management board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), lead by Emmanuel Adesoye to cancel the vessel towage services contracted to private firms.
Towage services are part of the technical function of the NPA, which are supposed to be resident with the authority as the landlord of the ports in the port concession regime. Only the commercial operations of the port are billed to be concessioned.
Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Communication Transportation and Corporation (SSACTAC), Comrade Benson Adegbeyeni had at assumption of office at NPA byMs. Hadiza Bala Usman raised the alarm that the port authority was losing a huge part of what was supposed to be its earnings to towage contractors, offering to assist the new managing director to end the loss by ending the vessel towage contracts.
According to him, so much of the revenue of NPA is currently going into wrong hands through towage services outsourced to a third party.
Adegbeyeni further lamented that towage services which is a core function of NPA, was outsourced to a private company in the Lagos area and in Rivers Port and Port Harcourt Port area, leaving NPA with only Warri and Calabar ports.
“We have so many things wrong with the port; the port concession exercise that was hurriedly carried out; the revenue of NPA is currently going into wrong hands through towage services that have been outsourced to third parties.
“We have been on it for the past one year; they want to outsource it to some people so that by the time they leave NPA, they would still be feeding from NPA through the contracts.”
Analysts argue that contracting the major money making aspect of the NPA job to private investor is running contrary to the spirit of improving internally generated revenue (IGR) windows available in the country.
They said upon acquiring and maintaining tug boats and pilot quarters with government funds, the NPA contracted out its vessel towage services to third part companies for the various ports, leaving a critical part of its service to contractors who merely remit peanuts to NPA far below global value of what is charged for vessel towage internationally.
Studies show further that towage services contractors remit a pantry $920 per vessel towed as against $3,600 paid by the vessels to the contractors, which is a little less than the global charge of $3,620.
NPA shipping statistics show that an average of 60 vessels call at the Lagos district ports monthly since the beginning of this year. Before the current downturn in importation, the average vessels calling at Lagos ports stood around 110 per month.
The towing services contractors are currently servicing not less than 60 vessels per month, charging $3,600, but remitting only $920 to NPA. This leaves NPA with a loss of $2,680 per vessel.
Whereas statistics show that NPA has capacity to do the job, facts show that it rather chose to concession out the vessel towage service to third parties. Besides, tug boats and the emergency towage vessels (ETVs) deployed by the contractors are owned and maintained by the NPA, while also maintaining pilot quarters howbeit, largely uncared for.
Before the takeover of the NPA by Ms. Usman, it was alleged that some staff of the authority benefit from the towage contracts, and that formed the reason for third party involvement.