The Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Friday insisted on dollarisation of transactions and urged terminal operators to pay up to date.
The Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, stated this at a Stakeholders meeting in Lagos to round off her two-day tour of the Western ports in Lagos.
She said that the dollar regime had been in operation before she assumed office in July and would still remain until a change is considered.
“I know these are trying times for everybody but as partners, NPA relies on you to meet its statutory and corporate obligations.
“From inception in 2006, the concession terms of payment is in dollar and it will amount to subversion of norms to change the goal post mid-way.
“I feel for you, knowing the difficulty in garnering forex with the turbulent dollar to naira regime,’’ Usman said.
She urged stakeholders to think out of the box and ensure that the Federal Government royalties were paid as and when due to avoid sanctions.
Some of the stakeholders, who appealed for a downward review of the tariff regime demanded that they should be considered to pay in naira.
They further asked that NPA should make it a priority to ensure security within and around the ports, the waterfronts and provision of facilities.
The General Manager, Eko Support Services Lt., Mr Sani Edu, said that with the current tariff regime, Nigerian ports were not competitive.
“In comparism to other ports in the West African sub-region, the Nigerian port is the most expensive.
“That gives the neighbouring ports of Cotonou and Lome the edge because investors are free to choose where to invest their money,’’ Edu said.
Mr Marshall Bombe of GMT Ltd, reminded the port management of the existing international shipping tariffs standard which also applied to Nigeria.
“The volume of vessels sailing into Nigerian ports has declined from 30,000 to 10,000 in the recent past as a result of the unfavourable business environment,’’ Bombe said.
Mr Pius Odobum of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) urged NPA to let the public know the status of Lilypond Terminal.
According to him, freight forwarders whose cargoes were assigned to the terminal were having difficulties in clearing them as the place has become moribund.
In her response to the plea, the NPA managing director said that her maiden recent tour of the ports had afforded her the opportunity of knowing the plights of operators.
She said that henceforth the authority would liaise with other agencies at the ports for a Single Window operational pack to ease transactions.
“This is the first time NPA is having a female managing director in 61 years and we intend to use the opportunity to improve the scheme of things,’’ Usman said.