Terminal operators get two weeks to clear N40b debts - THE NATION
By: Oluwakemi Dauda
Terminal operators indebted to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have two weeks to pay up or be sanctioned.
At a stakeholders’ forum held in Lagos, NPA Managing Director Ms Hadiza Bala Usman threatened to sanction any operator who fails to clear its debt or provide holding bays for empty containers.
Sources at the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF) told The Nation that the operators are owing about N40 billion.
A source said NPA would double its revenue next year if operators kept their agreement with the authority.
Usman also warned the operators against violating the terms of the concession under which the terminals were handed over to them.
She cautioned shipping companies against engaging in shoddy business at the ports.
“All terminal operators that owe NPA must be ready to pay up their debt. They must pay in the next two weeks or face serious sanctions,” she said.
Ms Usman was furious when she learnt that an operator and a shipping company were violating the concession agreement.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA,), Dr Kayode Farinto, alleged that the shipping company was charging importers additional N75,000 on each container.
Farinto said the shipping firms and operators were making billions of naira yearly from some of the unilateral charges.
Other stakeholders were unhappy that the operators were delaying clearing, resulting in increased port charges.
Ms. Usman ordered an investiga-tion into the allegations of excessive charges amongst shipping firms and operators.
NPA’s accounts section, she said, would recover all outstanding debts to boost the nation’s revenue profile.
The NPA boss assured stakeholders that agreements signed with operators and others would be reviewed in April, stressing that her administration had plugged loopholes to ensure transparency and accountability.
She said a competitive tariff and pricing regime had been introduced at the ports, adding that NPA would ensure that operators complied with their agreements with the government.
Some of the challenges stakeholders said were militating against revenue generation, include: provision of a modern signal/control tower; an efficient signal station to monitor ship and other activities in the ports; provision of pilotage services by NPA; fostering Information Communication Technology (ICT) to improve service delivery through automation, hardware and speedy network and provision of marine craft and operational vehicles to boost efficiency at the ports.
The stakeholders urged NPA to resolve the issues surrounding trailer parks and Apapa traffic gridlock.