GATEWAY TO WESTERN AFRICA accelerates reform to accommodate a rising tide of traffic through its ports
Aminu Abubakar Dabo
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority
its long maritime history, it was inevitable that Nigerias ports would
become the gateway to West Africa. Since the lagoon at Lagos was first developed
in the mid-19th century, followed by Ports Harcourt and Apapa, the ports have
played a key role in the growth of Nigerias economy, and those of its
Today, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) controls eight major ports, with a cargo-handling capacity of more than 35 million tons a year. More than 95% of all imported goods come through the ports.
Aminu Abubakar Dabo, Managing Director of NPA, says the ports are busier than ever. With the advent of democracy, the government has been trying to improve economic relations with other countries, and that has boosted the activities of the NPA, he says.
There has been a lot of traffic because of these improved relations. Now our greatest challenge is how we manage this increase.
improved international relations mean a growing number of ships seeking harbor
largest of the eight ports is Apapa, which has seven wharves dealing with passenger
traffic, bulk cement, wheat, foodstuffs, and oil. Apapa also has a 109-acre
container terminal with designated berths.
The Delta Ports Complex comprises some 93 general cargo berths, five roll-on roll-off berths, seven bulk sold berths, 11 bulk liquid cargo berths, 63 buoy berths, and numerous private jetties.
Some improvements have already been carried out, such as new pilotage services and navigational aids, but there is still much to do, says Mr. Dabo.
of the critical areas that require reform include the dock labor system, cargo
documentation, port security, and infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading.
For many years our ports did not undergo any maintenance or rehabilitation, and now they are facing the challenge of this high volume of traffic, says Mr. Dabo.
the NPA is aiming to privatize the running of port operations to make them faster and more effective, but will keep the ports themselves in government hands
first focus is on improving infrastructure to meet the pressing demand the ports
are now facing. This is a fundamental area, and we are re-planning all the ports.
Secondly, we have to streamline operations. We are looking at how to computerize
operations so they are faster, and more effective.
To accelerate the reform process, port operations are to be privatized. In fact, says Mr. Dabo, about 50% of port operations are already being handled by the private sector.
are looking at how to enhance private sector participation by encouraging both
indigenous and foreign players to work together to boost the economy.
The ports will remain in the ownership of the government, but investors are being invited to run port operations. Mr. Dabo says: Were training our workers to understand the privatization concept.
Were not selling the ports thats out of the question but were trying to increase private participation in their operational aspects.
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