Weekend Ginger: “We’ll soon stop ripping you off”- NPA Boss

NPA Managing Director, Malam Habib Abdullahi

Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Habib Abdullahi on Wednesday confirmed that the authority has been collecting tug boat charges, without providing the facilities for stakeholders, in most cases.

He acknowledged this at Eko Hotel, while presenting his two records of stewardship even as he pledged with the end users to bear with his management, as efforts was already being intensified to procure more tug boats to enable the NPA meet the soaring needs of end users.

“What you said is very correct. We have been charging you for tug boats and we have not been always providing you with tug boats. But give us (more) time and we will make up for it”, he indicated.

A good percentage of the audience was surprised. Some were in fact shocked. How can the head of the authority ripping off the people, be bold enough to acknowledge it outside?

But the crew of Maritime First was glad. Abdullahi was setting new records, for integrity, honesty and transparency.

In Nigeria, most leaders would rather lie, than confront the truth.

“We have met the Landfall Chairman and he is going to give two more tug boats. The Federal Government has also approved the acquisition of four more tug boats.

“So, we will soon have enough tug boats, to meet the challenges of increasing demands” he explained further, stressing that cargo/ ship traffic in Lagos was growing by the day!

He had all the time in the world to lie. He could even, like some other parastatal heads, throw tantrum, feign anger, at being confronted with the facts of his organization’s failure to perform his statutory mandate, but not Abdullahi. Now how many other Nigerian leaders would learn from Abdullahi; —Like the Yoruba man would say—“kuro n niyi, ete lo n mu wa (lie and gain glory, only ends in shame)”.

However, the two-year account of leadership at the Marina was not only about rip-offs. In fact, he gave a good account of diligent leadership.

On human capacity building, Abdullahi said the organization, for the first time undertook a massive training plan both local and foreign that cut across every cadre of the workforce, resulting in the training of about 90 percent of the entire workforce, last year.

“In 2013 alone, management trained 3,091 personnel out of the total work force of 4,245. This figure represents 90% of total workforce.
“The present Management has also successfully completed the recruitment and training of security men for the Authority, while similarly, we are in the process of recruitment of additional firemen and women”, he indicated.

On Corporate Social responsibility, he noted that, the present Management undertook several projects, which included providing relief materials to 2012 flood victim; relief materials to Bakassi returnees,  donating buses to UNILAG, donation of security boats to Navy and the provision of social amenities, consisting of classrooms and health centres across the country. 

“As you are all aware, the  biggest vessel to call at any port in West Africa (WAFMAX) with a length overall 232.33 metres and capacity of 4,500 TEUS requiring draught of 13.5 Meters has started visiting our ports due to our consistent dredging campaign. The weekly call of the WAFMAX vessel to Lagos and Onne port is a great achievement.

“Generally, stakeholders and shipping companies have confirmed that the channel management and conservancy function of the Authority has continued to improve.

“Analysis has confirmed that most of the ports recorded increase in the Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) of vessels mainly due to the capital and maintenance dredging of the channel by our Joint Venture (JV) Companies, namely the Lagos Channel Management (LCM) Company, for the management of the Lagos channel and the Bonny Channel management (BCC) Company for the management of the Bonny channel.

“These strategic developments have reflected in increasing cargo throughput to 77 Million metric tons in 2013 from 44,953,073 MT in 2005 excluding crude oil and gas.

“Provision of Towage Services  
In order to provide efficient towage service, the Government has approved the outsourcing of these services in Port Harcourt, Onne,  Warri, and Calabar ports. Very soon, I assure you there will no more complaint in delays in ship movement in and out of the ports”, he said further, pointing out that the NPA in recognition that excellence in environment, safety and health    enhance efficient and successful Port Operations, also procured six Mercedes Benz (Across 3332) fire engines with foam tenders, complete with accessories and one-year back-up spare parts; two Mercedes Benz (Across 3332) fighting truck with aerial platform, complete accessories and one year back-up spare parts; and a supply of first aid intervention equipment.

“We have continued to make strides in improving existing port infrastructures in the areas of rehabilitation works. We have seen to the conclusion of East and West moles and upgrading and renovation of common user facilities. Worth mentioning here is the completion of phase 4 and approval received for the commencement of the development of port facilities phase 4B at Onne Port Complex” he said further, providing a catalogue of good accomplishment in the area of capital projects.

“We therefore have witnessed the completion of the construction of 1.6km road at LPC.; completion of reconstruction of terminals B &C at old Warri Port; Completion of the rehabilitation of rail track at LPC; Continuation of the rehabilitation of TCIP quay wall and quay apron and third party projects which includes: the initiation and completion of  Island Berth on Lagos Channel by Oando and Completion of Eko Support Services at Bullnose, Apapa.

“To further encourage private participation in port development, technical approvals were granted to Digisteel Ltd and MRS Oil & Gas to expand their services at Ogogoro and TCIP respectively. 

“We have also granted approval to Niger Dock for development of additional berth to its existing one at Snake Island. Similarly, we are processing a number of applications from prospective investors. 

“Already applications from PTML and GDNL have been processed and recommended for requisite approval.
In order to accommodate the rapid expansion and development in the port, we are intensifying effort in the final production of a National Port Master Plan” he explained further, adding that with the present introduction of the electronic Ship Entry Notice (e-(SEN), to boost the gains of the e-payment which was launched in February this year, the port was finally set, to move from efficiency to transparency stage.

One thing is certain, the NPA has to some extent, been ripping off the stakeholders in the area of tug boat provision. Habib has not only confirmed it, he has also pleaded for understandings.

But beyond rhetoric, Mallam Abdullahi has also raised the stakes, in leadership approach to honesty, candidness and transparency. Would this gesture be appreciated, in a land that thrives in horse trading, lies and corruption? Only the future will tell!