The Federal Government has adopted a new port development policy, which prohibits the issuance of new licence for the development new port projects including deep seaports at least for now.

The suspension of approvals for the development of new seaport projects was sequel to a memo issued to the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA. Ms Hadiza Usman , which he graciously approved.

The NPA MD, who spoke in Lagos, said the Federal Government has approved the licensing of new port development projects till further notice.

It was however gathered that the Federal Government is currently working on a 25-year Port Development Master Plan during which no approval would be granted until the process is completed.

The Minister had however corroborated the position of the NPA MD when said that before now, the government had given approval for port developments based on political consideration  not international best practice and needs of the country.

He had also warned that the government would not fall into such temptation of granting such approvals in the future, insisting that when completed, the new port development master plan would provide a road-map for the approval of new port projects.

“I have observed that the development of seaports in Nigeria has become a state affair, as every state of the Federation would want to build a seaport whether it is in line with international best practice or not whereas what such states need is coastal rail and roads that connect them to the existing facilities”, Amaechi said.

He said that instead of granting fresh approvals for the establishment of new seaports, the government would concentrate on building coastal rails and roads that would link these states with the existing port facilities instead of wasting public resources in building seaports that would never be viable.

Meanwhile, there are fears that this new policy might stall moves by some investors to develop new deep seaports, especially in Badagry, Lagos  and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State.

The proposed Badagry Deep Seaport project is being planned by a consortium of investors made up Intels Nigeria Limited, operators of the Oil and Gas Free Zone, Onne Port, Oando Plc, Dangote Group and APM Terminals Limited, which is the concessionaire in charge of the former Container Terminal, Apapa while the Ibom Port, located in Ibaka is being worked out by Akwa Ibom State Government and the NPA.

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio had then promised to complete the deep seaport project, which was actually conceived by his predecessor, ObongVictor Attah.

Akpabio had then claimed that the government of the state had already issued a Certificate of Occupancy C of O, which he never did.

The Lagos State Government had last year said it would commence a preliminary work on the proposed Badagry Deep Seaport, a development that pitched it against the consortium.

The consortium, it was gathered had got certain approvals from the Federal Government for the establishment of the port.

The consortium, which then threatened to sue the Lagos State Government, had said it was studying the various legal instruments governing the proposed establishment and running of seaports in the country as well as items that fall within the exclusive and concurrent lists for both the Federal and State Governments across the country.