By Chinenye Anuforo
The recent Federal Government’s policy clarification on the ports industry aimed at eliminating monopoly has been described as one that would engender competition in the system with the ultimate goal of growing the nation’s economy.
The observation was made in Lagos, Thursday by Professor Fidelis Oditah, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a chat with a section of the media.
Oditah who is also a Queens Counsel (QC), noted that the fresh directive which now accords stakeholders a level –playing ground, is in tandem with the current administration’s reform initiatives aimed at encouraging Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) as well as boosting local participation in the oil and gas industry.
Recall that on May 10, 2017, the Federal government, through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), had conveyed its recent position in a letter titled: “Conveyance of presidential Approval – Re: Reports on Concessioned terminals in the Ports”.
The letter signed by Professor Idris Abubakar, Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services of NPA, had stated amongst others, “FGN remains guided by the general global practice in the designation of Terminal/ Port operations into three broad categorization of bulk cargo, container cargo and multi-purpose cargo.
“Accordingly, the FGN rejects the categorization of oil and gas multipurpose cargo terminal as this is alien to the relevant concession agreement and inconsistent with global shipping practices”.
The letter further added, “FGN reaffirms past presidential directives that all importers are free to choose any terminal or port for the discharge of their cargoes, subject to the presence of all requisite regulatory agencies at such ports as required by extant regulations and in line with its policy of promoting competition and value for money. Consequently, any policy that designates certain ports by cargo types is hereby cancelled”.