In spite of the economic recession that has negatively affected global trade and by extension port activities in most countries, the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman is confident that Nigerian ports can attract the desired vessel and cargo traffic to achieve the desired target.
It is not uncommon for chief executives of strategic government revenue generating agencies in Nigeria to set estimated revenue projections for their agencies. However, most of the figures are tossed around without empirical indices outlining the actual sources of the estimated funds.
So how exactly does Usman, who by the way clocks one year at the helm of the NPA this month, hope to achieve her quarter of a trillion naira objective?
Against the backdrop of the current wave of reforms and operational adjustments taking place across Nigerian ports, there is a conscious effort by the NPA to maximize the opportunity to enhance its operations and improve its revenue base.
With the maritime sector’s enviable position as the second highest earner of foreign exchange for the government, it is assumed that all things being equal, Usman should not have a problem matching her words with results. Emphasis on all things being equal.
However, prior to the Executive Order banning some government agencies from the port premises, several bottlenecks existed which gravely limited the potential of the ports to assume their true financial capacity. As a result, port users, terminal operators and the landlord alike were losing millions daily due to human induced challenges. This in turn affected the NPA’s revenue projections which are pivoted on seamless operations, faster turnaround time for vessels, reduced cargo dwell time, automation of processes and; elimination of corruption to the barest minimum.
In a recent interview on international news channel, CNBC Africa, Usman expressed optimism on the NPA’s capacity to achieve the revenue target by consolidating on its instruments of transparency, automation, operational efficiency, technology as well as the ease of doing business protocols that have recently been initiated at the ports by Executive Order.
She noted that achieving success with the revenue projection will among other things necessitate effective deployment of cutting edge technology such as the Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence System (CCCIS), a Marine Operation and Surveillance Centre which incorporates other port automotive devices like the Vessel Traffic System (VTS) and the Integrated Port Community Information System (IPSIS), to ensure that all revenue leakages are blocked.
The Authority will also institute a competitive tariff and pricing regime aimed at rectifying any imbalance witnessed in the sector and; introduce tenancy for all spaces occupied by private and government agencies at the nation’s seaports as a source of additional revenue, while shipping companies and Terminal Operators within the pilotage district are expected to fulfil their financial obligation to the organization diligently.
She listed the Authority’s commitment to the single window project, recent procurement of four new tug boats, the resuscitation of the rail link to Lagos ports and; the directive to commence 24-hours port operations as factors that will invariably enhance revenue generation in the industry.
Usman observed that the ports were witnessing an increase in exports, especially in that of agricultural produce and this had helped to shore up revenue projections sustainably.
She also identified dredging of the port channels to depths that will accommodate larger vessels which would ensure Nigeria benefits from the economies of scale associated with them. Usman further revealed that the NPA was accelerating efforts to ensure optimal utilization of its facilities at all locations with a view to generating greater dividends for the country. She highlighted plans to rehabilitate the Lagos Light House at Tarkwa Bay in order deploy an Automatic Identification System (AIS) at the location to enhance navigation.
Usman might as well be on course to achieving her objective as she noted that “Earlier, we observed a decline in our revenues due to the economic recession, but the situation is gradually improving as we recently met and surpassed our revenue projections target of N16 billion for the first quarter of 2017. We generated N118 billion within that period”, she said.
The NPA MD, who has been commended for her progressive policies and actions since taking over at Marina, has in the space of one year indicated her willingness to steer Nigeria’s ambitions in the port sector. If there are any doubts about her capacity as a skilful coxswain, she may at the end of 2017 have 250 billion naira worth of reasons to make you toss your reservations overboard.