New Telegraph

Operators invest N789bn on equipment at port terminals

After contributing N538 billion to Nigerian economy, three port concessionaires have invested N789 billion ($570 million) on port modernisation, cargo handling equipment such as shore cranes, RTGs, terminal tractors, among others to boost operations at the Lagos and Onne ports. Findings revealed that APM Terminals (APMT) Apapa invested $438 million to upgrade over 100 years old Lagos Port’s container terminal, Port and Cargo Handling Services Limited, $20 million and West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), $112 million on its concessioned terminal at Onne. It was also revealed that APMT was making a new move to invest another $500 million at the Apapa Port container terminal.

However, the investment is being threatened by poor infrastructure due to lack of funds to rehabilitate the terminals since 2020, when the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) raised the alarm over the level of damages. According to Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), besides the investments on equipment, the port concessionaires had contributed over N538 billion to the Nigerian Ports economy development, noting that the commencement fees was N5.69billion; lease fees, N196.5billion; throughput fees, N61.45billion; infrastructure, N66.6 billion; investment on equipment, N139.99billion and tax payment, N67. 8billion. The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said that if there is no intervention to save the port in the coming years, there would be many problems related towards doing business there. Specifically, the managing director explained that the Escravos, Calabar and Onne Ports were in need of significant rehabilitation alongside Tin Can to the tune of $1,1 billion, noting that Tin Can and Lagos ports were facing imminent collapse and needs rehabilitation.

Bello-Koko noted: “We have been managing it and doing palliative and other jobs but it is time we rehabilitate it, we also need to rehabilitate some parts of Apapa. We need to reconstruct the breakwaters in Escarvos, it has collapsed for over 10 years and there is a collapse jetty in Calabar, Warri, Rivers and Onne. “There is no port that does not need reconstruction of some of its facilities. The gap is because if we decide to leave Apapa till much later, we do not need up to $800 million, but if you need to reconstruct Tin Can, we need that amount.” It would be recalled that the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has called on the Federal Government to intervene over decaying infrastructure in and around the Tin Can Island Port. According to the Managing Director of Port and Terminal Multi-services Limited, Mr. Ascanio Russo, there was need by the government to address the level of infrastructure decay at the port to make them more competitive. He said: “One of the major challenges that terminal operators face in Lagos at the moment and for some time now is the condition of the port infrastructure especially in Tin Can Island Port. “As you know, terminal operators have been operating in Lagos for over a decade and have made significant investment in infrastructure, equipment, and human resources. Over time, we have really increased the level of productivity in the port. “From our side, we want to confirm that we are committed serious investors and we are ready to participate to invest directly in this infrastructure. We have been here for many years and we plan to be here for more years.”

In March 2023, concessionaires said that the efficiency and other benefits of port concession exercise had saved Nigeria’s economy over $1.6 billion in the last 16 years, translating to a minimum of $100 million annually. The Chairman of STOAN, Vicky Haastrup, had said at forum in Lagos that the exercise had been a huge success and brought tremendous improvements to the nation’s port system. She also said that the concession of the port had saved the country about $8.5 billion (N3.91 trillion) which was hitherto paid to foreign shipping lines as congestion surcharge. She said in addition to the huge savings to the economy, terminal operators had also made significant investments running into billions of dollars at the six major seaports across the country

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