The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has declared that the emergence of deep seaports in Nigeria would halt the scourge of cargo diversion, and lift the country’s status in the comity of maritime nations.
Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, who disclosed this in an interview, said her administration would work to ensure the realisation of deep seaports in Nigeria.
She said: “We are determined to provide an enabling environment for a new deep seaport to come on board.
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“As you are aware one of the concerns that we have that makes Nigerian ports less-competitive is the absence of deep seaport, which provides a depth of draft of about 17 meters.
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“This is where the industry is going now. Economies of scales, encouraging larger vessels, which are lacking that in Nigeria now. We will ensure that we work with this new board to ensure that those which are already ongoing would be completed in due time,” she said.
Usman, however, renewed clamour for the deployment of scanners at the seaport, as part of measures to fast track cargo evacuation.
She said the NPA is currently working with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Terminal Operators and other stakeholders to fast track cargo evacuation.
“We (NPA) will continue to engage with our stakeholders. We recognise that we must enhance efficiency, we must ensure that consignees come to clear their cargoes within the time limit.
“Some of the things we are doing is pushing to ensure that vessels come in good time and are evacuated without delay. We do have attendant challenges as I mentioned, because the waiting time within our ports is not in the optimal manner that we would like it to be.
“We are working seriously with the Terminal Operators and Nigerian Customs to fast track the process of evacuating cargoes and also importantly, the inspection of cargoes.
“This is something that is great priority for the Ports Authority, for the Nigerian Government, more so for the Nigerian Customs.
“We need to deploy scanners in our ports so that cargoes can be inspected using scanners. Right now, as a lot of consignees are aware, cargoes are inspected physically.
“So, having the entire cargo that come into Nigeria being physically examined, you would look at how difficult and challenging that would be and the time frame with which we would have that attendant longer window because the inspection officers would have to literally open all the containers that come in.
“So, ensuring that we deploy scanners are key for us and ensuring that we put in place automation mechanism for improving efficiency,” she said.
Usman said the Authority is also monitoring terminal operators closely to entrench efficiency at the ports.
“As you are aware, we had a challenge with APM Terminal, one of our largest container terminals in the last few months, but they have complied with all the regulations, and have imported all the necessary equipment/cranes needed for fast evacuation of cargoes and indeed that’s what we need.
“We need responsible terminal operators that would adhere to development plans within the concession agreement. However, if they don’t adhere, we would sanction them.
“With APM Terminals, you can now see that those cranes have been deployed and are now working seriously with Nigerian Ports Authority in improving on their operational efficiency.”
Usman, who also spoke on sundry issues in the sector said: “The port is the gateway to the economy and that was clearly stipulated in the presidential speech when the president directed that ports operations remain functional even when we had a full lockdown.
“So, we proceeded with implementing and ensuring that our staff are provided with the necessary essential duty cards; and as you know, ports operations are not limited to what only the NPA does but what the larger stakeholder group does, meaning, the terminal operators, shipping companies and other third party contractors.”
WILLIAM Harrington has suggested to Hakainde Hichilema, genuine and well-meaning opposition parties, including those from PF to consider observing Black Sunday on December 27, 2020 in honour of the slain State prosecutor and UPND supporter.
Prosecutor Nsama Nsama and UPND member Joseph Kaunda were shot dead on Wednesday as police dispersed UPND cadres that had escorted Hichilema to the Force Headquarters for questioning.
Police officers killed the duo just outside the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) offices and there was a ‘holiday’ in the nearby government offices, including at the Old Cabinet wing where home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo’s office is.
The body of Kaunda was perfunctorily put in a Kabwata police van and driven away, probably to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) mortuary.
Police forensics went to where Nsama’s body was and combed the scene.
According to an eyewitness who sought anonymity, Nsama, who was in the company of a friend, met his fate at Cabinet Restaurant, situated near the corridors of the NPA offices.
The source said Nsama was sitting at the restaurant with his friend, waiting to be served food.
“(Nsama) was seated at the restaurant with a friend. It seems police who were all over the area perceived them to be UPND cadres. So, one of them just fired at the man and he fell in a pool of blood. It shocked all of us who were there and we could not believe what had happened,” said the witness. “The man (Nsama) was just sitting with his friend, suddenly we saw him drop dead and blood coming out. That’s how some of the people ran away, some were wailing.”
Mobile footage, which went viral soon after the shooting incident, showed colleagues weeping hysterically and calling Nsama by name as they touched his motionless body on the ground. In the footage, Nsama appears to have sustained an upper chest wound.
Before media attention shifted to the deaths, police officers, armed to the teeth, threw tear gas canisters and journalists and a group of UPND supporters at the High Court roundabout were chocked.
Reacting to the deaths, Harrington, a former cabinet minister in the Frederick Chiluba government called for observance of a black Sunday.
“I am making a very passionate appeal to Hakainde Hichilema as president of the largest opposition political party, United Party for National Development, together with all genuine and well-meaning opposition parties, including those from the ruling Patriotic Front, to consider observing Sunday 27th December 2020 as a day of ‘national mourning’ for those two innocent, unarmed and defenceless citizens namely State Advocate Nsama Nsama and one suspected United Party for National Development youth at the hands of heavily armed overzealous police officers on Wednesday 23rd December 2020,” Harrington said. “I am aware that many, normal-thinking members and sympathisers of the Patriotic Front are also very unhappy and disturbed about the loss of lives.”
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Harrington, a former Senanga member of parliament, said the unwarranted deaths of the two citizens was a very sad and unacceptable development.
He said the development was comparable only to the atrocities committed to an innocent youth in Mongu on January 14, 2014.
Harrington hoped his suggestion would be given consideration by genuine opposition political parties.
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“I further propose that all those citizens who wish to observe the proposed day of mourning to wear black attire. It should be called ‘Black Sunday’,” suggested Harrington.