- Terminal Operators Fret over Concession Agreement Review
Terminal operator operators in the nation’s seaports are afraid they may loss out in the imminent review of the port concession agreement they signed with the Federal Government over a decade ago.
The idea of the review which was muted during the administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was given impetus with the advent of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration about two years ago.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman had shortly after taking over the reins of administration from her predecessor, Alhaji Habib Abdullahi said that the 10-year old port concession exercise is due for review.
According to Usman who is regarded as a neophyte in the maritime industry in some quarters stated that the review will broadly examine all facets of the terms of the port concession engagement.
The NPA Managing Director revealed that the review would cover areas like financing models and the concession environment.
She hinged the review of the concession agreement on the need to adjust according to the vagaries of the nation’s economy.
“As the nation’s economic climate changes, there was need to adjust”, she said.
In order to ensure that no stone is left unturned she said other agencies of government relevant to the exercise shall be fully involved in the concession review.
Her words: “We would reach out to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and they would be part of the review”.
Check revealed that at the conclusion of the concession review, some of the concessionaires that might have not performed creditably since they signed the concession agreement might be compelled to relinquish the terminals they are presently operating.
Already, fear have gripped some of the concessionaires as they were said not to have meet up with the provisions of the agreement they signed with the Federal Government through the management of the NPA.
An impeccable source close to one of the concessionaires said that their fear is not on their performance as he argued that they have done well going by the prevailing circumstances they found themselves.
According to the source, their greatest fear is that some people close to the corridors of power, especially in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have position themselves to take over the terminals from the terminal operators. So it is not about performance. It is about taking over the terminals from the concessionaires by all means. Many politicians have their eyes on the nation’s seaports. They are angling to take over the terminals for their own selfish interests. Remember, preparations for the 2019 has started in earnest. Many of them are looking for the funds to fulfil their ambitions.
He maintained that the concessionaires have not done badly if the assessment is based solely on their performance in line with the provisions of the agreement.
He also argued that the review of the concession agreement should be holistic as the agreement has components for all parties involved pointing out that there are roles and responsibilities for the concessionaires just as there are roles and responsibilities for the government.
“Unfortunately, most people are only focusing on the aspects of the terminal operators alone. They totally ignore the areas that have to do with the government. They deliberately close their eyes to the roles and responsibilities of the government which are clearly stated in the concession agreement. Check it. It is written there black and white but no one talks about it. For instance, what about the common users services which strictly fall under the purview of the government? Has government done well? Of course, it has not. That is the one million naira question begging for answer.
“In order to get a true picture of how the concession has fared in the last ten years, the proposed review must be comprehensive. We must not look at one aspect and leave out the other. We must take a critical look at all the aspects militating against its successful implementation in the last ten years.
Otherwise, the review will be dead on arrival and we will not be able to make a headway as far as the sustainable development of the nation’s seaports is concern”, he said.