Terminal operators carrying out business in the nation’s seaports are said to owe the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) a whopping sum of N191.8 million thereby causing the organization to embark on frantic moves to recover all outstanding debts.
Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, on Wednesday in an interactive session with the media disclosed that so far, the authority had been able to recover about N500 million out of the entire debts owed the organization.
Usman, who expressed bitterness over the huge debts, said the authority had carried out an analysis and discovered that some of the debts had been as old as 10 years.
The NPA boss also described some of the debts as bad debts, adding that some of them had to be written off following the discovery that the affected companies were no longer in existence.
She lamented that some of the concessionaires had not been able to meet their obligations in terms of payment of the lease fees, but added that this was being pursued.
“We also have debts from lease agreements, tenancy payments that have accrued over the years. The NPA has a process of continued billing the leasing of lands that those it leased them to have no access to the properties. When an agency leases a property to you and you have no access to the property how do you pay them. The NPA continued to bill the entities and considered it as debt.
“We are looking at reverting some of the lease allocations because the fundamental to leasing is that the leasee has to be able to take occupation. You cannot lease a land that is encumbered. When you lease a land that is encumbered by encroachment, topographical challenge, and bill for the lease, it is not a responsible thing to do. We have identified the leases that are encumbered by encroachment and other factors, we will remove that aspect of the debt from what is being owed the NPA”, she said.
Usman equally said efforts were on to recover the N400 million NPA staff money that was trapped in Aso Savings and Loans Limited.
In her words, “We will do everything possible to recover all our monies including the N400 million trapped in Aso Savings or Aso Homes as the case may be. We are pursuing it aggressively and we will make sure the monies are returned to us.”
She also disclosed that the concession agreement with the APM Terminals Limited on Lily Pond Terminal would expire next year, saying that the management would hold discussion with the affected terminal operator on the next move, possibly to renew the agreement.
On deep seaport project, Usman said her administration was making every effort to support the projects but however, added that the authority would not contribute as much as 20 per cent to the funding of the Lekki Deep seaport.
On the proposed Badagry Deep seaport, Usman said that the consultant preparing the report did a poor job, and had been asked to go back and present another one.
She threatened that if the consultant did not do a better job this time, the management would be forced to look for another one.
Commenting on the deplorable state of the roads leading to the nation’s ports, she said this had been captured by the 2017 budget, adding that the Ministry of Works and Housing had also included it in next year’s budget.
She also said that the Holding Bay for trucks would be completed next year, adding that it would address the issue of trucks littering on the roads leading to the ports.
When completed, according to her, no truck would be allowed on the port roads unless it had been called to pick cargo.
On the maintenance of the access roads, she disclosed that NPA had two contractors handling the projects, but added that the best would be achieved once there was a holding bay.
She said that some of the contractors handling the road had complained that trucks on the road had made it impossible for them to carry out any work and therefore
appealed to truck owners to ensure that their vehicles gave way for work to commence in ernest.
She also disclosed that the authority was making efforts to improve based on its poor ranking by the World Bank, saying that most of the components of the ranking were not only NPA, but included other agencies.
“There were other government agencies that operate within the ports that challenged our efficiency. We have challenged the agencies to do better. We have also discussed the matter at the Ease of Doing Business Committee set up by the President to see how these agencies can improve. We have given them timelines to ensure that they improve on their efficiency.
“The ranking is a global one and Nigeria cannot be an exception. We must do everything to ensure that we move up in the ranking. We need to work together for national interest and ensure that the success of other agencies becomes the success of Nigeria”, Usman said.