By Onyeka Ajumobi Onochie
Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex A. Okoh, has reiterated the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to a private sector driven economy, calling on local and international businessmen to take advantage of the government’s open door policy to establish their businesses in the country.
Speaking at the official hand over of the Terminal ‘B’ of Warri Old Port to the concessionaire, Ocean & Cargo Terminal Services Limited, in Warri, Delta State, on Monday, February 11, 2019, the Director General noted that the Nigerian Ports are the main gateway to the country; and the key to the Federal Government’s objective of diversifying and growing the country’s economy.
He pointed out that the objective of the government port concession is to increase efficiency at the ports, with the ultimate goal of modernizing the ports to make them more competitive.
“The objective of the government in port concession is to increase efficiency in our ports, improve service delivery, upgrade and modernize facilities in the ports, reduce cost of shipping and clearing of goods at the ports as well as relieving the government of the burden of financing the sector,” he stressed.
According to him, the concession is for a period of 25 years at an annual lease fee of US$1,621,500, in addition to the entry fee and monthly throughput fee chargeable on the volume of cargo handled.
He assured that the implementation of the covenanted development plan for the Concessionaire would be closely monitored by the relevant government agencies, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), BPE and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to ensure compliance.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, represented by the Executive Director, Marine and Operations of the NPA, Sokonte Davies, noted that the concession of port facilities was carried out to enhance productivity and attract more cargos to the hitherto abandoned port.
While appealing to the port community to support government’s initiatives aimed at developing the maritime industry, Davies said the port concession would enhance the economy of Delta State and create jobs for people in the host communities.
“We, therefore, implore the various communities to work positively with the concessionaire, in making the government’s efforts a success; they should try not to put any pressure on them because pressures can shut the business down.
“But if the communities support them, they will see that, as activities increase and vessels come, it will increase the engagement of young men and women, even the old people.
“The communities will be positively impacted because the economy will grow and it will have positive effect on every area of life of the people.
“We are using this opportunity to appeal to the host communities to help this one to work. It is working in other places, don’t let yours be different,” he pleaded.
Also speaking, the Port Manger, Delta Ports, Mr. Simon Okeke, said the additional terminal to the port is a milestone which will increase maritime activities at the port, stating that the port now has a lot of facilities, especially, with the dredging of the Escravos Channel.
Okeke implored the concessionaire to introduce a linear vessel to the port to boost business activities and expressed the confidence that business men in Nnewi and Onitsha in Anambra State and other adjoining communities will now patronize the port.