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House Of Reps Summons Oyetola, NPA MD, Others Over Controversial Seaport Concession

  • To probe concession fees collected from Terminal Operators nationwide
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THE House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed  Bello-Koko over controversies trailing the concession of Apapa Terminal, Warri Port Terminal, and Tincan Island Port Terminal.
Other stakeholders expected to appear before the Committee are: Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Director General Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
Chairman, House Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Hon. Ibrahim Chidari issued the notice during the investigative hearing into the expired concession agreements signed with six unlicensed Terminal operators.
According to him, “we invited you to this meeting today to discuss how best to address this prolong renewal process because of the need to attract investments into our critical port infrastructure which is one of the major focus of this administration.
“From the brief we received from affected parties and MDA’s involved in the process, we understand that as of today what is outstanding in concluding the process that started over 5 years ago is the execution of the negotiated Supplementary Agreements for the respective Terminals.
“That is why we invited all stakeholders to see how we can work together to quickly address this concern in the mutual and national interest.
“There are the five terminals whose concession period has expired and they have been operating illegally from 2021 to date and we want to investigate and see what is the problem and whoever is in charge of this, we would deal with him.”
They are: ENL Consortium Limited, Associated Maritime Services Limited (AMS), Ports & Cargo Handling Services Ltd and Josephdam Port Services Nigerian Limited.
While frowning at the illegality being perpetuated by NPA officials who issued letters of extension of concession agreements to the operators, the lawmakers underscored the need to investigate the fees paid by the collected from the six Terminal operators into private or government accounts.
Hon. Chidari who expressed concern over the controversies trailing the expired leases/concession agreements, ruled that the Minister of Maritime and Blue Economy, NPA Managing Director, BPE Director General as well as ICRC Director General “must appear before the Committee on 12th of March.
“We also want to assure that this committee would work very hard to make sure that this issue is over and to do that, you are to furnish the Committee with all the relevant documents through the Secretariat latest Friday.
“To this end we would also go into details of all your financial activities between the expired date to today because as one of the members said maybe you are comfortable with what you have been paying and that is why you are silent otherwise you should have been following it so the issue would come to an end.
“So, when you are furnishing the Committee with relevant documents, you should give us all the details of payment done by your side to the government so we can see what transpired between the expired date to date.
“We want to assure we would work hard and work together with you to make sure that this prolonged issue is solved.”
Speaking further on the development, Hon. Chidari observed that: “Some seaport terminals were given out on concession and five of them their duration has expired. Some are from Lagos and some are from Port Harcourt. They were trying to see that their approvals were renewed since 2021. Somewhere, somewhere this renewal were not granted to them, but they have been operating since then.
“So, we deemed it fit to cross check and find out what they problem is. So, we decided to invite them, and all the stakeholders like the Ministry of Blue Economy, ICRC, BPP, Ministry of Transport. After inviting them here today, unfortunately only the seaport terminal operators are here.
“So, we have discussed with them and have given one week period within which the Minister of Blue Economy, MD NPA, BPP and ICRC should appear before this committee on 12th of March by 10 am, so we discuss with them, we see where the problem is and we take action so that we bring this lasting solution to the problem.
“They have been invited but only one of them gave a reason for not coming because they are out of the country. But the rest did not give any reason for not coming.”
Other lawmakers who spoke during the hearing queried the Terminal Operators whether they are sure that the fees paid were paid into the appropriate government’s account or not, maintained that any payment made illegally is an offence bothering on corruption.
In the same vein, Chief Ochia Patrick who spoke on behalf of Brawal Oil Services Limited accused INTEL of illegal imposition of shifting fees which led to the loss of multi-million naira businesses from international shipling agencies.
Chief Patrick who expressed grave concern over the high cost of diesel to power generators daily, solicited for the intervention of the House on regular supply of gas to the Terminal.
He also expressed concern over the impact high foreign exchange and other associated costs being incurred in the cause of carrying out businesses in the country.
On its part, Indorama Group expressed concern over the imposition of about 40 taxes by Federal Government and various regulatory agencies.
While reacting to all the concerns raised by the stakeholders, Hon. Chidari assured that the Committee has been interfacing with relevant Standing Committees on Finance and Gas Resources with a view to address all the issues militating against ease of doing business in the country.
To this end, the Committee resolved to adjourned till Tuesday, 12th March, 2024 for further legislative action.

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