Nigeria saves over $1.6bn from port concession in 16 years — Haastrup

The efficiency and other benefits of port concession exercise have saved Nigeria’s economy over $1.6 billion in the last 16 years, translating to a minimum of $100 million annually, Vicky Haastrup, the chairman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), has said.

Speaking at the 34th-anniversary celebration of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos, with the theme: ‘16 Years of Port Concession: The Pains and the Gains,’ Haastrup said the exercise has been a huge success and brought tremendous improvements to the nation’s port system.

“Nigeria’s port concession programme has been a huge success. It has reduced the waiting time of vessels coming into our ports from an average of 45 days before 2006 to less than three days at present. It has helped in eliminating the notorious congestion surcharge hitherto imposed on the ports by major shipping lines under the aegis of the Europe-West Africa Trade Agreement (EWATA).

“The elimination of the port congestion surcharge resulted in saving Nigeria’s trading community about $100 million per annum. If multiplied by the 16 years of port concession, it will amount to a savings of more than $1.6 billion,” Haastrup, who was represented by Bolaji Akinola, the spokesman of STOAN, said.

Haastrup listed the other benefits of port concession including injection of private capital into port development; freeing up government resources for other developmental purposes, elimination of port congestion; modernisation of our ports; improved availability of cargo handling equipment; competition among terminal operators, improved welfare and training of port workers and the institution of a condition of service for dockworkers.

“Recall that prior to port concession, dockworkers were casualised; they did not have employers and did not have the condition of service. The narrative has since changed with the introduction of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which created a condition of service for them and also created room for the review of their remuneration every two years. Our port concession regime has been studied and duplicated by many other African countries,” she said.

She further said that though the retrenchment of the workers of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was a painful part of the port reform exercise, the government should ensure that all the affected former NPA employees get the financial entitlements due to them.

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“Without a doubt, our economy has benefitted immensely from the port concession. The drawbacks at the port are a result of the cumbersome cargo clearing process, the high rate of physical examination of cargo by Customs, over-dependence on roads for cargo delivery as well as bad roads leading into and out of the port. I believe that once these challenges are addressed by the government, Nigerians will reap more gains from the port concession,” the STOAN Chairman added.

Recall that Federal Government embarked on a port reform programme in 2006, which led to the concession of cargo handling operations at the port to reputable private terminal operators.

At the event, Haastrup was honoured by the association as the Face of Port Concession in Nigeria while APM Terminals Apapa got the award of Terminal Operator of the Year.

Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the Minister of Transportation and Bashir Jamoh the director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) also got awards.

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