Stories by Isaac Anumihe
The recently-approved Badagry Deep Seaport project in Lagos State, may face implementation delays going by feelers from stakeholders.
This was as recent government policy announced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that all new ports projects be stopped pending the release of a 25-year Port Development Master Plan as well as the alleged poor communication with host community leaders may cause the project to linger.
Members of the host community of Gberefu Beach where the port is to be sited have also been complaining of not being carried along in the project, which affects their land and environment.
After the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the port in August this year, investigations revealed that the core investor in the $2.6 billion project have not come forward to interface with the Federal Ministry of Transport to fine tune modalities for the project.
Transport Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, according to sources, has been looking forward to seeing the company open talks with the government since August.
Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, disclosed in Lagos at a recently-held World Maritime Day Celebration that all port development projects have been halted.
Usman who was reacting to questions and comments on the siting of ports without considering their economic impact and viability, said the NPA sought ministerial approval that all port development programmes be stopped pending the outcome of a 25-year port master plan. Transport Minister, according to her, approved her request.
APM Terminals, the company undertaking the project, had indicated interest in the investment since 2012 but nothing concrete had been done.
After FEC’s approval for the port, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos embarked on a visit to the company’s representatives in London and Denmark to assure them of a conducive working environment.
“This port and free zone, situated on over 1,000 hectares is expected to be the largest deep seaport in Africa upon its completion. The project will include a container terminal, oil and gas services and a liquid bulk terminal, with general cargo and Ro-Ro facilities,” Ambode said in a statement.
A communique from a forum recently organised in Badagry by Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) also identified the communication gap between the people and the investors.
‘’There is a disconnect between the Federal Government, Lagos State government and the private sector investors for the port project on one hand and the host community of Gberefu Beach where the port is to be sited on the other hand,’’ the communique said.
The communique also recommended an all-inclusive approach in interaction with stakeholders in the project while expressing fears of it being delayed like some other port projects.
‘’All stakeholders in the Badagry Port project need to meet and be more open in transactions to immediately commence work on the project. This is to forestall a situation where development of the proposed port will remain in the realm of projection for over a decade like the Ibaka Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom State that is yet to commence more than 10 years after it was conceptualised,’’ the communiqué said.
The High Chief Menu Toyon II, the Mobee of Badagry, who spoke with a group of journalists in his palace recently, maintained that even though the project is commendable, measures should be put in place to avoid environmental degradation as well as to curtail likely unrest by involving all the stakeholders in decision-making to avoid what now obtains in Niger Delta.
Ten years after commencing operation in the Premier port of Apapa, stakeholders are still lamenting poor working conditions meted out to shippers and their agents.
In light of these and the fear of importing health hazards into the ancient town of Badagry, Chief Mobee said: “I am delighted but there is no good thing without the other side. Yes, maritime or whatever is coming to Badagry in terms of deep seaport is going to face a lot of hazards no doubt about that.
“Yes, everybody expressed jubilation that there is going to be deep seaport but at the end of the day, Badagry where you came today and saw everywhere peaceful, there will be influx of people of questionable characters. It happens everywhere. All we are praying for is that we don’t want to experience what is happening in the Niger Delta in Badagry because maritime brings a lot of good and bad things,” he stated.
Expressing fear over possible dilapidation of the infrastructure in the corridor, Menu Toyon II said the influx of people may bastardise the facilities, especially as no Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) is carried out.
“Number one, when the port starts, our roads are going to be bastardised. There will be environmental degradation in Badagry, which is very bad. I would have suggested, and we have written to the Lagos State government, that we prefer luxury cruise in Badagry where we have very beautiful ships that can be taking tourists here and there. Well, the deep seaport is good but there is bad implication there,” he said.
Speaking further, the first class chief said that stakeholders in the community where the port is proposed are not carried along.
On the sharing formula for proceeds of the proposed port, which is 20 per cent for the state government, 20 per cent for the Federal Government and 60 per cent for APMT, Chief Mobee asked: “Where is the place of the stakeholders? Now, it is going to bring influx of people. It is going to provide employment opportunities for our children even the yet unborn children but the stakeholders must be carried along. That is my submission.
“Before starting anything, there must be peace accord for an amiable settlement between the stakeholders and APM Terminal. We welcome the idea in a very good direction but at the same time, we are in fear that what happened in Niger Delta may happen in Badagry,” he insisted.
Several calls put to Mr. Augustine Fischer, the spokesman for APM Terminal were unanswered.
Only 3,000 of Nigeria’s waterways navigable –NIWA
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has said that it has only succeeded in exercising the powers vested on it by the Act establishing it on Nigeria’s over 3,000 kilometres of navigable waterways from Nigeria/Niger and Nigeria/Cameroon borders to the Atlantic Ocean.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NIWA, Mr. Tayo Fadile, who stated this in a lecture titled, “Nigeria Inland Waterways Infrastructure Development: Opportunity and Challenges”, which he delivered at a three-day All Nigerian Maritime Journalists’ Retreat organised in Topo, Badagry, Lagos State, by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON), said the navigable waterways included the nation’s portion of the Lake Chad, creeks and lagoons.
This is even as he said that Nigeria’s natural endowment in inland waterways was about 10,000 kilometres of which, if developed through dredging and provision of auxiliary facilities, would provide all year round navigation for transportation of bulk cargo and passengers.
According to him, “this natural water wealth comprises rivers, creeks, lagoons, lakes and intra-coastal waters. However, the main waterways are the River Niger and River Benue.
“In order to facilitate efficient and economic use of Nigerian waterways to attain desired economic prosperity, the Federal Government established NIWA through an Act of the National Assembly, CAP47 LFN (Decree No. 13 of 1997) with a clear mandate to manage Nigeria’s vast inland waterways resources.
“The Act vests in NIWA the power to exclusively manage, regulate and control activities and operations on Nigeria’s inland waterways. This power is exercised on Nigeria’s over 3,000 kilometres of navigable waterways from the Nigeria/Niger and Nigeria/Cameroon borders to the Atlantic Ocean including the nation’s portion of the Lake Chad, creeks and lagoons. Nigeria is blessed with a river configuration very suitable for North-South movement of people and cargo.”
Fadile, however, noted that despite the great potential and opportunities they provide for economic development, the nation’s waterways’ resources were grossly underutilised and underdeveloped.
He added that to elicit efficient, prudent and profitable utilisation of the Nigerian inland waterways transport system, the Federal Government was poised to transform inland waterways infrastructure facilities in line with government shared vision and initiative towards a modern competitive multi-modal inland water transport system with best practices and service consistent with current global standards.
He maintained that the inland waterways’ huge infrastructural deficit has thrown up opportunities for investment in virtually all physical infrastructure and resources extraction in the sector, saying that an improvement in the institutional structure and features of inland waters system and its associated public utilities are essential to attain economic growth.
Fadile listed areas of infrastructural intervention requirements to include dredging to remove silt and other impediments, river ports and jetties, installation and maintenance of navigational aids such as dams, dykes, etc., and river training works including construction of dams, dykes and groins to ensure the achievement of highest level of efficiency and seamless operations.
Others include improvement of port-linked flow in landward connection to the ports, riverbank protection and maintenance of dredged channels.
“Through infrastructural development, the adequacy of inland waterways infrastructure helps determine Nigeria’s success and failure in diversifying its production, expanding trade (domestic and foreign) with its growing population, reducing poverty or improving economic growth. Inland water transport is one of the seven major infrastructural factors; others are energy, agriculture, communication, finances, education and health,” he said.
The NIWA spokesman noted that a developed inland waterways resources would open up windows of economic opportunities that would attract Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the sector.
He listed investments that could be harnessed through the inland waterways infrastructure resources to include provision of job opportunities, integrating rural communities, dockyard services and management, cargo barges and work boats construction, tanker barges construction for fuel transportation, and storage, passenger and bulk cargo ferry service.
Others include tank farms, tourism and hospitality service delivery, oil and gas exploration and supply services, poverty allegation, establishment of private ports and jetties, production, concessioning of inland river ports/jetties, pipeline network laying, among other investment opportunities.
Customs remitted N2trn to Federation Account, says CG
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that it has so far remitted over N2.5 trillion to the Federal Government’s account between 2014 and 2016.
Giving a breakdown of how the money was generated at a workshop organised by Association of Maritime Journalists (AMJON) in Badagry, Lagos State, Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hammed Ali, noted that NCS generated N977,099,172,939.51 in 2014; N904,072,689,941.72 in 2015 and N647,295,101,275.51 by September 2016, totalling N2,528,466,964,156.74 into government coffers.
The NCS chief who spoke through the NCS Public Relations Officer, Wale Adeniyi, also stated that there was need to reconsider the economic development of the government and hasten the diversification option.
“We must look beyond oil and diversify. The option that promises a future assured on a sustainable basis is that which is inward-looking and self-sustaining,” he said.
According to him, a number of export promotion incentives enunciated over a decade ago have failed to produce the required results, adding that there has been a serious abuse by beneficiaries and implementing agencies. A fundamental review of those policies, he said, is necessary to achieve the desired objective of making Nigerian exports competitive in the global market.
“For over four decades, we have been entrapped in a web orchestrated by big-time importers of food items. We have been made to believe that food is only good enough if it is for all year round production in Nigeria. Several initiatives under this administration have shown that with the right political will, a revolution in agriculture will engage over 70 per cent of unemployed Nigerians and increase the Gross Domestic Products (GDP),” he added.
He revealed that Customs is spearheading a total ban of rice importation in 2017 to encourage the anticipated harvest of locally grown rice in commercial quantity.
While urging journalists to assist in shaping the ongoing conversation about NCS’ role in economic development, he added: “We will be happier if your reports set agenda for local production, capacity of Nigerian producers to satisfy local demands, and other similar indicators. States like Kebbi, Ebonyi and Lagos have made great strides in local rice production. The challenges faced by the farmers and efforts to meet those challenges should be promoted rather than the attention on the ports.”
Ali also said the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) meant to boost trade among countries in the West African sub-region has added value to businesses and economy in the region.
The scheme, he said, had 192,255,186kg worth of goods exported from Nigeria in 2013; 127,924,323kg in 2014 valued at N97.3 billion and 211,258,268kg in 2015 non-oil export worth N226 billion.