New Telegraph

Port Rehabilitation: FG opens talks with offshore banks for N600bn loan

As part of measures to rehabilitate dilapidated port infrastructure in the country, the Federal Government has opened discussions with some foreign lenders for a loan to see the project through. Findings by New Tele- graph revealed that French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp) have been approached by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to access N600 billion long term low-interest credit for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion in the country.

The port authority had revealed a few months ago that it was making moves to fund the rehabilitation of Tin Can Island and other ports with $800 million loan from multi- lateral financial institutions. Over time, the premises of Five Star Logistics terminal at Tincan Island Port have become a death trap for workers. New Telegraph also gathered that NPA was at conclusive stages of discussion with the local and international partners with the requisite financial and technical competence to fund the Tin Can Port reconstruction project. Also, the World Bank had signified interest in assisting the authority in the area of port rehabilitation as NPA complained that the cost implication for fixing port infrastructure deficit far out- weighed the budgetary provision at its disposal.

The Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Kpko, had also explained that the reconstruction of Tin Can Island quay walls was top on the agenda, noting that the port needed most urgent in- tervention. At a breakfast meeting with stakeholders to proffer actionable solutions to the di- lapidated quay apron of the Tin Can Island Port as well as reconstruction of other ports across the country, the managing director, who was represented by the Gen- eral Manager, MD’s office, Mr Ayo Durowaye, said that the theme of the meeting: “Reha- bilitation of Tin Can Island Port: Proffering Workable Solutions,” was very much in sync with NPA’s renewed drive towards ports infra- structure and equipment renewal across all locations.

He said: “As most of us are aware, owing to successive decades of neglect, the cost implication for fixing port infrastructure deficit far outweighs the budgetary provision at our disposal. We have explored and identified sustainable Public Private Partnership funding options which we have put forward to government for necessary approvals. “We are at conclusive stag- es of discussion with local and international partners with the requisite financial and technical competence to fund the Tin Can Port re- construction project. In the meantime, we are fixing what is within our capacity. Only recently we commissioned a state-of-the-art control tower for Tin Can.”

Bello-Koko noted that the authority had taken measures to forestall a future reoccurrence of port infra- structure decadence before intervention. According to him, the new concession agreements had ensured that all parties would have hands on deck to ensure infrastructures are maintained. Also, the Executive Sec- retary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hon Emman- uel Jime, noted that poor port infrastructure was one of the reasons for high cost of doing business in the country. Jime said that for Nigeria to be a maritime hub in West and Central Africa subre- gion, attention must be paid to the infrastructure deficit at ports across the country.

He explained: “There is no debate about the quality of infrastructure available in this industry. If we are go- ing to be competitive and live up to our dream of becoming the maritime hub in West African subregion, we must focus squarely on develop- ment of infrastructure and make them of international standard.”

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