Due to the Federal Government’s decision to leave the rehabilitation of Apapa and TinCan Island ports out of the 2023 budget that was presented to the National Assembly last week, Nigeria may lose its two main seaports to a complete infrastructure collapse.
Only N10 million of the N126 billion that the Federal Government gave to the Transport Ministry is suggested for the implementation of initiatives for the rehabilitation, exploitation, and patronage of Eastern ports.
The two important seaports in Lagos State are not being renovated at all.
Mu’azu Sambo, the minister of transportation, has pledged to make it easier to rebuild and restore the seaports, which are dilapidated.
Over $600 million, according to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), is required for seaport rehabilitation/reconstruction projects all across the nation.
The seaports being evaluated for rehabilitation or renovation, according to the managing director Mohammed Bello-Koko, are Apapa, Tin-Can Island, Calabar, Warri, Koko, and Burutu ports.
“We are working towards requesting the government’s approval to use a certain per cent of our revenue to fund the reconstruction of Tin Can port,” he said.
The budget also includes N20 million for the evaluation of the NPA, the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), all of which fall within the purview of the Ministry of Transportation.
Meanwhile, N1.5 billion and N775 million, respectively, are allotted to MAN and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Although some terminal owners wish to take on the rehabilitation of the ports, a source close to the NPA noted that it is the agency’s obligation.
“It is the responsibility of the NPA; the agency is looking for funding options, we are looking for the best options for it. Some terminal operators want to undertake the project, but we do not want to let one person do it,” the source said.
Vice President of the Business Action against Corruption, Integrity Alliance, Jonathan Nicol, responded to this by asking why shippers were required to pay a seven percent port development charge for 30 years if the government would not renovate the ports.
“Shippers pay a seven per cent surcharge for port development levy across the country. The seven per cent surcharge is a levy for every cargo that comes into the ports. Shippers have been paying that levy for 30 years, it was introduced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“It is enormous money for the development of the ports, which has not been used looking at the state of the ports. The question is why do shippers have to pay for port development levies when the ports have been concessioned because concessionaires are supposed to develop their own space at the port, which they rented from the Nigerian Ports Authority? It is their duty to develop it and not that of the shippers to do it for anybody,” he said.
Haruna Omolajomo, general secretary of the Association of Bonded Terminal Operators of Nigeria, bemoaned the deteriorated condition of the infrastructure and the government’s subpar response to its upkeep.