BUA failed to embark on build, rehabilitate berth within the terminal for 10 years instead 90 days -NPA MD

Key Takeaways:

…… you can’t operate a terminal that you yourself have said is at the point of collapse?

……BUA within their court injunction, brought in 117 vessels within the period of the low draft, and poor infrastructure

..… Nobody is targeting anyone

….. desperate attempt by BUA to cover up their non-compliance to contractual obligations

….. has the capacity to mobilize media and create a sense of victimization

……we are in court

The Nigerian Ports Authority, Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman who spoke exclusively to Eromosele Abiodun in an interview, excerpts:

Recently, the NPA decommissioned the BUA Ports and Terminals Limited, operator of terminal B, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Why?

 

BUA had a concession that it signed on with the NPA. It is part of the concession in 2006. Part of the agreement was that they were required to build and rehabilitate berth within the terminal, and they were required to do that within 90 days. BUA did not embark on that reconstruction for 10 years. This is an issue from 90 days to 10 years.

 

In February 2016, Nigerian ports issued BUA with a notice of default. Meaning that they have defaulted on the rehabilitation of the berth. In February again, they wrote them two letters. Why I am referencing that is because then, I wasn’t the managing director of the NPA, I started work in July. So in July, I inherited those notices of default that had been issued to BUA, we now further issued them another notice of default in July. And we gave them four months with which they should refer back to us so that they can start the reconstruction.

 

By November 2016, BUA was not forthcoming and then we issued them a notice of termination. Terminating them for default on not doing the reconstruction. And they then took us to court and got an injunction which prevented us from taking over. And they continued to utilize and operate the terminal for that period.

 

Between November 2016, and May 2018, they were operating the terminal and then they wrote to us that the berths were at a very deplorable state and that they were notifying us about the situation. And we felt that you cannot operate a berth that is collapsing in such deplorable state as they themselves described, so we now issued them a decommission notice. Because health and safety are key, you can’t operate a terminal that you yourself have said is at the point of collapse.

 

And with that, BUA now served us with a notice of contempt of court, which I found interesting. So within the period of 18 months when you were using that terminal, nobody ever interfered with your work, nobody said stop, you were the one that wrote to us to say you were in a deplorable state and that of a safety hazard. And as a responsible regulator, we had to take action and de-commission it.

Nigerians should know also that BUA is not the only operator at the Port Harcourt Port, there is PTOL, etc. So we knew that the keys were weakening, so we asked that a conditional survey be done and I will share the report with you. BUA is twisting the facts that our action is something deliberately targeted at them or trying to frustrate their business.

 

So if you have been a responsible business entity that was required to reconstruct a berth in 90 days and you didn’t do it in 10 years, where does the issue of being targeted come in? Some of the claims that BUA has been making is that the NPA did not meet its own obligations, for example, we did not dredge. Within the period of not dredging, BUA, even the period of their court injunction, brought in 117 vessels within the period of the low draft, and poor infrastructure.

 

They also referenced that there were insecurity at the berth, which resulted in certain activities; And that some of the wires and steel for construction were stolen, even that was done in 2014. They took over in 2006, and you did nothing until 2014, that’s eight years. So at the point when you took over, you were required to do it in 90 days, eight years later that was when there was the first incident of stealing of goods.

 

Indeed, if they had done that rehabilitation, those steels would not be exposed in the way that would allow anybody to even steal them. So, the so-called insecurity that they claim resulted in the inactivity is a function of they not doing what they were supposed to have done in 90 days. From the year 2006 to eight years later, imagine the state it would be. In the year 2006, it was in a bad state, eight years later of cause it would worsen, and the steel would be exposed in such a way that would allow that.

 

Even the referencing of the fact that there was vandalisation in the berth is because you didn’t do what you are supposed to do in 90 days, that’s why, eight years later, the steel were exposed and it resulted in these items to being stolen.

 

I find it curious as to where BUA is going with this idea that it is being targeted. Nobody is targeting anyone. And when they reference the fact that, you have certain projects that are ongoing, we are keen to have responsible entities that adhere to contractual obligations. There are clear contractual obligations violations that you have done; do we look away from it, just because you feel that you are above the law? No business person is above the law, you must comply.

I find the idea of taking your non-compliance to the media domain, to distract people from the fact that you’re not complying, and to attribute personal issues to your noncompliance sad and pathetic. And it’s a desperate attempt by BUA to cover up their non-compliance to contractual obligations. I always want to state here that, I would not be intimidated or bullied by anybody that thinks he can go and buy 10 pages of an advertorial in every newspaper.

 

And I say, if BUA wants to sustain that, they can keep doing it until the end of the year or forever, because the NPA would not be intimidated or bullied by anyone because he feels he has the capacity to mobilize media and create a sense of victimization, trying to make it look like you are the victim when we all know you are not a victim.

 

So if you had done what you were responsibly required to do within 90 days, now in 2019, which is 12 years later, we would not be having this discussion; 90 days and 12 years are not the same.

 

So I take exception to such blackmail or intimidation on the pages of the newspapers.

 

Where are you now with BUA?

 

Well, we are in court.

 

 

The Captioned Photo: The Nigerian Ports Authority, Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman

 

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