By Steve Agbota

The National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, has said that the port reforms of 2006 lacked legal framework and economic regulator, which has created various bottlenecks and hindrances in the port system.

Amiwero in a letter written to President Bola Tinubu, titled; “The Negative Impact In Privatising Nigerian Ports Without Legal Framework And Economic Regulator Since 2005 Till Date,” said that the nation’s Ports are associated with cumbersome, lengthy and unwholesome practice, which ranks Nigerian Ports as the most expensive within West African sub-region.

Amiwero who has served in various committees on Presidential Task Force on the Reform of Nigeria Customs Service, Presidential Committee on 48 hours clearance of goods from the port and others, expressed more concerned about the process of privatising Nigerian Ports without legal framework and economic regulator, which has constituted hindrance that resulted to gridlock on the nation’s roads.

He lamented that the process of the port reforms give room to lack of holding bays, lack of trailer parks, lack of Government warehouses in the Ports and no regulator to check the private monopoly of the terminal operators, these components where excluded from the Port privatisation process.

“The holding bays that existed before 2005 within and around the Ports, was ceded out as land space to terminal operators, without providing alternatives, all the spaces used for various activity to enhance port activities, was ceded to terminal operators, forcing the trucks, lorries to use the available Port access road to hold empty containers and wait as holding bay, awaiting access to the Port to load clients consignment.

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“There are no Government warehouses to place Government cargoes, no trailer parks, no economic regulator, no holding bay, duplication of charges and charges not tied to service is prevalent in our Port system,” he said.

He said Nigeria Port system is expected to serve the economy and meet the needs of Port users in a manner, which is economically and environmentally sustainable, through the establishment of an appropriate operational process, efficient port procedure and effective legislative framework.

“The exclusion of the three (3) components; legislative framework, commercial/economic Port regulator and concession, from the inception of the Port privatisation process in 2005, created room for the present hindrance in our Port system, the principle of concession was jettison, there is no provision of concession in Nigerian Ports Authority Act 38 of 1999, but only lease agreement for five (5) years, as contained in Section 25-(2).

“The impediment makes our port one of the most expensive in the globe, which gave the terminal operators and shipping companies advantage to manipulate and control the Ports system, that lead to bottleneck, gridlock on port access roads, high cost of clearance and extreme private monopoly to the detriment of the economy,” he added.

He said after 19 years in to the lease agreement tagged concession, there is the need to ascertain, if the objective of the Port privatisation, deceitfully tagged concession has been realised, in line with objective of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), putting in mind the provision of Section 7(c ) of the Port Act 38 of 1999.

However, he called on President Tinubu to set up committee of expert to review the process to accommodate the shortfall inherent in the port system in other to reduce the cost of doing business, lengthy and cumbersome procedure and duplication of process and charges not tied to service, so as to attract back our cargo from neighboring port and foreign direct investment.