Determined to fortify Nigeria’s trade competitiveness, the Nigeria Port Authority has said it is launching a whopping $1.1bn for the rehabilitation plan of all the ports in Nigeria in the first quarter of 2024.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said this on Tuesday in Lagos, during a panel session at the 43rd Annual Council Meeting of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa.
He said almost all the ports in Nigeria need rehabilitation and NPA is initiating a substantial overhaul, starting with the Tincan Island and Apapa Ports in Lagos.
According to him, “The objective of the authority is to enhance the physical infrastructure of these ports to accommodate vessels of all sizes and increase the draft at the quayside. Increasing the draft is intended to achieve draft depths of up to 14 meters and this initiative will render Nigerian ports more competitive on a global scale,’’ he said.
Bello-Koko further stated that the NPA was also strengthening collaborations with the private sector to establish new seaports.
He said the Lekki Deep Seaport had already commenced operations, and the Badagry Deep Seaport recently signed an agreement with a Middle Eastern party, with construction scheduled to commence early next year.
The NPA boss noted that these endeavors exemplify the NPA’s determination to create a multimodal transportation system connecting all ports seamlessly.
Speaking on the challenges of cargo evacuation by road, Bello-Koko said the agency was actively working on alternative initiatives like barges and also expanding rail infrastructure.
“The survey for deploying cargo rail and tracks to Onne port has been completed, setting the stage for the project to kick off next year. The authority has automated its collection system and is collaborating with the International Maritime Organization to introduce a state-of-the-art port community system, poised to optimise cargo clearance processes. The authority is working on clarifying the responsibilities of government agencies within the ports with the newly developed port process manual aimed to reduce overlaps and eliminate duplication of duties,’’ he said.
On security challenges on waterways, he said, ‘’the deployment of the deep blue sea project, equipped with air and sea assets, would enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea and contribute to significantly reducing piracy incidents within Nigerian waters.’’
He added that NPA was collaborating closely with the Nigerian Customs Service in reducing bottlenecks and cut the cost of doing business within the ports.
The NPA boss disclosed the development of a 25-year port master plan that would guide the location, sizes, and activities of ports, terminals, and jetties in Nigeria.
The master plan will serve as a national working document, uniting all stakeholders towards marine and logistics development.
Also speaking, the President PMAWCA, Martin Boguikouma, urged African countries to address challenges facing the region to be able to receive the new volume of traffic that would emerge due to AfCFTA.
Boguikouma listed ways to solve the challenge as, a collaboration between customs and port authorities to harmonise customs procedures.
“We need to ensure capacity building of all seaport and customs officials, sensitise them on how to address cross border trade. There is a need to work in reducing transport cost, investing in efficient transport infrastructure, safety maritime safety through enhanced interstate cooperation,’’ he concluded.