Executive Director, SiFAX Haulage and Logistics Limited, Major Henry Ajetunmobi (rtd), has hinged the development of port infrastructure on public-private partnership.
The director who spoke at the 2nd edition of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference in Lagos, said that the model remains the most attractive option open to the government to develop and maintain critical port infrastructure due to its inherent benefits.
He said that the benefits include, maintaining and improving on service level, leveraging on private sector skills and competencies in project execution and service delivery through improved skills; technologies and innovation, unlocking access to capital and cost efficiencies, maintaining safe and secure operations and freeing government funding for other sectors of the national economy, other than port development and port renewal.
“As the government’s concession of the ports to private terminal operators enters the second decade of its existence, one expects stronger consolidation of the gains of concession that are already witnessed beyond dispute by various classes of port users and operators as well as government agencies. Consolidation can come only through greater investments in port infrastructure anchored on stronger public-private enterprise involvement.
“The current bad state of port access roads, especially to the two ports in Lagos–Apapa and Tincan – the ports that receive over 70 per cent of the total cargo throughput in Nigeria – is a rather sad commentary on the way we have fared as a nation. As it is well known, the negative consequences of this development are not just telling on the economy and the state of equipment; they also impact adversely on human health both on port users, operators, and residents of the host communities themselves.
“This is one area that would benefit from decisive PPP – driven investment intervention. Perhaps the time is now right to start considering adoption of other options and models of maintaining and improving upon the quality of our port access roads, including concessioning through tolling. Or perhaps we should strive for bolder and more ambitious option,” he said.