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NSC warns NPA over veiled, private review of port terminal concessions, seeks role

Strong indications have emerged that the planned review of port concessions by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) without recourse other maritime agencies especially the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) may not work after all.
Speaking to select newsmen on the sidelines of the recently concluded Sub Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committee Meeting of the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) hosted by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr Hassan Bello, averred that “There may not be a meaningful port concession review without involvement of all the port regulators”.
It would be recalled that the review of all port concessions in Nigeria is long overdue as the statutory operational period for the existing concessions had expired.
Port stakeholders had been worried over the delay as one of the key promises given by the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, on assumption of duties included early review of the concessions but that has not happened getting to three years in office.
Stakeholders are more worried on some of the shortcomings and highhandedness of some port concessionaires who have voided a lot of terms and conditions of their terminal management with the federal government.
However, in her presentations at the just concluded International Association of Ports and Harbour (IAPH), Bala Usman hinted that the review of the concession agreements would be ready in three months, an indication that it may have been concluded but the report is awaited.
Whereas she made it clear that “It will be ready in the next three months. We are talking with the terminal operators,” NPA disclosed that “We have an inter-agency committee which has all the agencies of government that are part of the concessioning process (office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Federal Ministry of Transportation, NPA and we also have technical support from the World Bank”.
She did not make any mention of any maritime agency either as partners or observers but was quick to note that “There is a review of port concession, which is going on but for now, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is not participating and Nigerian Shippers Council is a representative of so many things”.
“You cannot have meaningful port concession agreements without the Nigerian Shippers Council. So I am aware that the federal ministry of Transportation is looking at this because one has to take the interest of all users because this is what happened in the first instance when the negotiations of the port concessioning were inclusive, we were not involved and we should operate an open society.”