By Richards Adeniyi
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman recently indicated that the Authority lacks the constitutional or moral powers to compel importers to use any particular port.
The NPA Boss stated this in Port Harcourt, at the Rivers Port Stakeholders’ meeting, enlightening those who accused the Authority of watching Lagos ports go into congestion while allowing the Eastern ports to fallow, on the limitations of her management’s powers.
“We must appreciate the fact that the importers retain their rights to use any preferred ports”, Usman who was represented by the NPA Executive Director, Marine and Operations Mr Sokonte Davies said, debunking the notion that the Lagos ports were “congested,”.
Pointing out that the Lagos ports were not congested, she also explained that it is rather the access roads that were in bad shape, for which the government was already assiduously working to fix them.
She equally noted that most of the importers/exporters that used the Lagos ports were from South-West; stressing that the Authority would soon procure six gun boats to tackle security challenges on the waterways.
Speaking further, Usman observed that the NPA had eased up the system of doing business before the executive order was issued, noting that the policy had paid off handsomely.
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Usman said the authority did not charge money for services it did not render to importers and exporters.
She said that it would be difficult for all inspecting agents to inspect a vessel at the same time, adding that the exercise could only be done in turns.
Usman promised to address users’ complaints constitutionally and hinted that the meeting would hold quarterly to enhance harmonious relationship between NPA and stakeholders.
The shipping companies/agents had complained of lack of pilot cutters; inadequate security, poor light as well as shallow Bonny channel which needed dredging.
According to stakeholders, big vessels are diverted to other pots due to the shallowness of Bonny Channel, among others.