The Nigerian Ports Authority has said that the vision of the agency is to make the nation’s various seaports the best and the hub for the entire African continent both in terms of volume, efficiency, ease and cost of doing business and competitiveness.

Managing Director of the Authority, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, who made this pledge, while delivering a key note address on ports efficiency and the need for operators to invest in technologically up-to-date equipment that will enhance port operational efficiency, improved work environment and increased lifespan of ports, terminal and road pavements at the post NIMPORT Executive Business Networking Lunch Meeting on Improving Ports’ Operational Efficiency, which held in Lagos.

The Managing Director, who was represented by the General Manager in charge of Public Affairs of the authority, Chief Michael Ajayi, however said that it is imperative for Nigeria’s seaports to also lead in modernisation of equipment and infrastructure to respond to global trends in shipping business as well as development and upgrade of existing port infrastructure if they must take such leading position.

She observed that port systems functions in two parts, one being an international border post where fiscal and other regulatory requirements of the government are monitored and enforced while the other function is that of logistics nodal point where cargoes and passengers are transferred between modes of transport interconnectivity to the hinterland, which cover the role of the NPA.

According to her, the Federal Government through the NPA had over time made efforts to reposition the nation’s seaports in line with global trends, which led to the reform of the ports in 2006 that brought in private terminal operators to handle cargo in order to attract private sector investments to develop the ports and also enhance efficiency.

She admitted that before this time, the nation’s seaports were largely inefficient with high cargo dwell time and long turnaround time of vessels that call at the ports and the attendant high cost of doing business, which made the ports also uncompetitive.

The MD also disclosed that 10 years after the port reforms, which has bought about a measure of efficiency, the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is not relenting in its efforts to revamp Nigeria’s ailing economy and one of the government’s agenda for sustainable economic growth is to further develop the seaports and properly position the port industry to play its key role as the gateway to the nation’s economy.

Nigerian ports have been designed and planned to provide safe, well-marked approach channels, sufficiently protected berths of appropriate sizes and types for vessels that will use them at present time as well as in the foreseeable future, sufficient back-of-port area for administration, adequate cargo handling equipment, tugs and other pilotage compliments as well as good roads and or rail communication with the hinterland”, she also said.

She thus insisted that the consideration for adequate provision of these services is to ensure that within the design capacity of the ports, these operations go on in the most efficient manner.

“The measure of port efficiency is derived from the level of service delivery, customer satisfaction and visible multiplier effect of value added services on the industry and national economy. Hence the key performance indicators of ports are globally acknowledged to be ship waiting time, ship’s time at berth or port, cargo dwell time, cargo throughput, channel and quay depth, equipment and craft availability, port community network and ease of doing business”

“To this effect, NPA’s scorecard has been commendable, although there are still more milestones to cover. In its strides to deliver on its mandates of availing an efficient port system for the overall good of the Nigerian economy, the authority recorded a number of milestones, which include improved operational efficiency and increased throughput, improved maintenance of port terminals’ infrastructure, high availability of cargo handling equipment, deepening of port channels and improved towage and pilotage services through third party engagement as well as acquisition of more crafts, among several others, she also said.

She assured that the new management is working towards a review of the port concession programme in line with global standards to make the ports more efficient and globally competitive.