The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has signified its readiness to review its tariff regime in order to draw traffic to the Nigeria ports.
This was disclosed over the weekend by the Managing Director, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos. She said the tariff regime would be reviewed both upward and downward to make the ports competitive and attractive.
‘‘Our tariff regime will be very competitive looking at the role of Nigeria within the West African sub-region and in the continent. The tariffs will ensure that we are competitive and will also drive traffic into our ports,’’ she said.
She also disclosed that the NPA would ensure operational efficiency of the nation’s ports. ‘‘To ensure that our terminals are competitive, we are taking into considerations the fact that we cannot afford to have traffic moving away, so any decision taken in tariff regime will put into considerations the competitiveness of Nigerian Ports in West Africa coast and in the continent of Africa.
The managing director also disclosed that it would be impossible for the agency to accept payment in naira from terminal operators and shipping companies. According to her, the NPA has most of its obligations in foreign currencies and unless it was able to negotiate its obligations in naira it would be difficult to accept payments in local currency.
She said: ‘‘As I mentioned to our stakeholders, we have obligations in United States dollars, so it is very difficult to accept payments in naira. We know the concerns of forex in the country, but we shall continue discussions and ensure that all indebtedness in dollars to the NPA are paid promptly.’’
Usman also disclosed that there was a need for the management to decongest access to the ports through the road. My assessment of the port is that we need to improve on a number of things, we need to prioritize the decongestion of access road to our port complexes.
There are lots of things we need to improve, we need to improve the ease of doing business within the port and I have asked the terminal operators to automate some of their services to reduce human traffic.
Also speaking at the event on acceptance of payments in foreign currencies, the Executive Director, Finance and Account, NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko admitted the difficulties in sourcing foreign exchange but charged the terminal operators to pay up their debts.
‘‘We understand the difficulties in accessing forex, but we expect our customers to think outside the box on how to pay us. This is part of what we will be discussing in the review of the concession agreement,” he said.