The Senate is set to scrap the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, through the modified Ports and Harbours bill which seeks to create a new body to be known as Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority.
The new bill which replaces the old one that has been at the National Assembly for over 10 years, is meant to strengthen the concession of Nigerian ports to ensure transparency, effective management and improved safety.
The Bill which is sponsored by Sen. Andy Uba seeks to repeal the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, 2004 and enact the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority to provide for the ownership, management and development of ports and harbours.
A maritime journal, Ships and Ports reported that the bill recommends in part that for the provision of an “appropriate institutional framework for the ownership, management and development of ports and harbours.”
It states further that if privatised, it will “ensure the integrity, efficiency and safety of the ports based on principles of accountability, competition, fairness and transparency, and to encourage private sector participation in the provision of port services and port infrastructure and promote and safeguard Nigeria’s competitiveness and trade objectives.”
The Bill seeks to establish an authority which shall be vested with control and ownership of all ports and harbours on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, transfer of the technical regulatory powers relating to ports to the Authority, and transfer of the ownership of the land and assets relating to ports currently vested in the Nigerian Ports Authority to the Authority”.
In reforming the sector, the senators may also separate the cargo handling section of the authority from landlord functions within ports and foster greater operating efficiency, accountability and transparency in the management and operation of ports.
The reform of the sector would also provide for “safe navigation, development and efficient management of harbours, channels and waterways and all other conservancy functions”.
The Bill recommends the facilitation of “transfer of technology, information systems and managerial expertise through private sector participation in port operations, creation of means of planning, coordinating, developing and integrating port policies with other maritime activities, surface and air transportation systems.”
The piece of legislation also proposes to introduce “maintenance of appropriate institutional arrangements to support good governance and accountability in ports.”
The new agency, the Senate proposes, should also establish a “reserve fund”, in the mode of the Excess Crude Account as it obtains in the case of proceeds from oil.
The Nigerian Ports and Harbours Bill was originally presented to the National Assembly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 but failed to pass through both chambers. Unlike the new bill, the Obasanjo bill seeks for the splitting of the NPA to two autonomous authorities, the Western Ports and Harbours Authority and the Eastern Ports and Harbours Authority.