The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has spent about $1bn on the maintenance of the Lagos, Rivers, Calabar, Onne and Warri ports channel depth and navigational aids, According to The Nation, Out of the total amount, over $400million, it was gathered, was spent by NPA through the Lagos Channel Management (LCM) which is a joint venture company.
The Lagos Ports Complex, which includes Apapa Port, Tin Can Island port, Roro Port and container terminals, is the backdoor for cargo trafficking into West Africa, due to the volume of trade within Nigeria and level of accessible trading routes throughout the open. And that is why the water depths, planned for the entrance to the ports, are maintained at the statutory levels.
“The responsibilities of the NPA cover the maintenance of the channel depths and the navigational means that are required for the safe sailing of the ships through the entrance to the ports and within the ports,” a senior official of the agency who requested that they remained anonymous said at the weekend.
NPA, it was reported, spent about $100millionin dredging channel channel depths and maintaining navigational aids between 2005 and 2007. According to The Nation, Over half of the amount was spent in maintaining the two Lagos ports.
For example, $22 million was spent in 2005; about $17million in 2006 while over $18 million was in 2007 on Lagos port.
Also, between 2008 and 2012, the agency spent over $150milllion. Sources added that over $20million was spent on the Lagos Port maintenance in 2008.
Investigation has also shown that between 2013 and this year, the maintenance of NPA is over $250million.
In 2013 alone for instance, NPA, it was gathered spent over N22million, while the agency was said to have spent about N25million in 2019 alone to dredge and maintain the Lagos channel.
A senior official of the Ministry of Transportation, who does not want his name in print, said: “ In 2006, the Federal Executive Council gave approval to the Ministry of Transport for the dredging of Calabar Port and NPA signed contract agreement for the dredging of the Calabar Port channel, valued at N8.9billion at that period. Therefore, if we calculate all the amount of money which NPA had spent on dredging and maintenance of the ports across the country, it is over N500billion.’’
The estimation is even lower, if we open their records.
The amount, the official said, “is not part of the provision of Third Party Towage Services (TPTS) at Warri and Onne ports pilotage districts.”
”It is for the purpose of cooperation in managing the maintenance system of the Lagos ports, NPA has a permanent representative on the Joint Ventures’ board of directors participating in the project planning, control and implementation performed by the LCM.
”LMC is the company implementing the maintenance of the channels and it is contractually obligated to fulfill the legal obligations of the NPA in the Lagos ports,” the senior FMoT official said.
”But the question we want the NPA to answer is: ‘for how long are we going to be debating whether to support foreigners in carrying out this highly expensive project or we should allow Nigerians to do the job for better maintain of our harbor channel depths and widths’.
”We may need a bill to boost port activities by utilising more of the collections from a port tax levied to fund harbour maintenance by Nigerians.
”Among other goals, giving the job to Nigerians should reduce the number of contract solicitations that lead to no bids or bids that are more than 20 per cent higher than the NPA cost estimate.’’