By Chinonye Anyatonwu
MD NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko
Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko has said that the management under his watch is working round the clock to ensure full automation of Nigeria’s port systems, which he said remains the backbone of an efficient seaport operation.
Speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Lagos, Bello-Koko disclosed that the authority has commenced a massive rehabilitation of existing port infrastructure across board, and an upgrade of workers’ welfare, which are part of the legacies he plans to bequeath to the country’s port system.
According to him, automation remains the fulcrum of any efficient seaport, noting that there are some levels of automation among shipping lines, terminal operators and other stakeholders, adding that the NPA was working towards integrating these automated systems under one Port Community System for operational efficiency of the seaports.
“We are currently understudying what has been done in some efficient seaports in the world.
Something that we can say this is it; that is the Community Port System and Harbours automation because we have come to the full realisation that no seaport can achieve efficiency without automating the systems”, the MD said emphatically.
In terms of rehabilitating the existing port infrastructure, he disclosed that the management under his watch has commenced moves that would culminate in the reconstruction of Tin Can, Apapa and Rivers Port, Port Harcourt.
It was gathered that Bua Sugar Refinery, which is one of the concessionaires at the Rivers Port in Port Harcourt has commenced the process of reconstruction of the some of the collapsed berths at the port, especially berths five and six with the submission of engineering designs to the NPA for approval.
Investigations also showed that the management of the NPA, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transport has commenced talks with some stakeholders that would climax in the reconstruction of Tin Can Island as well as Apapa Ports under some form of Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
Bello-Koko said: “I want to bequeath a legacy of rehabilitated port infrastructure with the right marine equipment and that is what we are already working on.
Discussions have started in terms of the design; we have not got the full designs for Tin Can Island Port.
“The design is going to be on how it will be reconstructed, what will be the likely cost of the reconstruction and we will do same for the Apapa Port. We would not mind if it is what would require us to provide the guarantee for the funds, but discussions are ongoing.
“We are urging Bua Sugar Refinery to reconstruct the collapsed berths at the Rivers Ports and recently, the company has submitted the external drawing and we are vetting it.
If we are able to achieve all these, we would have achieved a lot. We are pursuing massive rehabilitation of port infrastructure and under it we have the proliferation of deep seaports in the country; it is an all-encompassing programme.
“We are also working on workers’ salaries, emoluments and other welfare issues. The last time salaries were reviewed in NPA was in 2004 and so we are working towards improved welfare of the workers.
All these are my legacies I want to bequeath to the industry and I want you to hold me responsible for that, assured Bello-Koko.
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