The Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) is set to embark on a transformative $1.1 billion rehabilitation plan for all ports across the country in the first quarter of 2024, aiming to enhance trade competitiveness. Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of NPA, revealed this groundbreaking initiative during a panel session at the 43rd Annual Council Meeting of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa in Lagos on Tuesday.
Bello-Koko emphasized the imperative need for rehabilitation across almost all Nigerian ports, starting with the Tincan Island and Apapa Ports in Lagos. The overarching objective is to improve the physical infrastructure of these ports, enabling them to accommodate vessels of all sizes while increasing the draft at the quayside. This enhancement, he noted, is pivotal for achieving draft depths of up to 14 meters, ultimately positioning Nigerian ports as more competitive on a global scale.
In addition to rehabilitation efforts, the NPA is actively collaborating with the private sector to establish new seaports. The operational commencement of the Lekki Deep Seaport and the agreement signing for the Badagry Deep Seaport with a Middle Eastern party, slated for construction commencement early next year, underscore the NPA’s commitment to creating a seamless multimodal transportation system connecting all ports.
Addressing challenges related to cargo evacuation by road, Bello-Koko highlighted alternative initiatives such as barges and an expansion of rail infrastructure. The survey for deploying cargo rail and tracks to Onne Port has been completed, with the project set to kick off next year.
Moreover, the NPA is focused on improving cargo clearance processes by automating its collection system and collaborating with the International Maritime Organization to introduce a state-of-the-art port community system. Bello-Koko also emphasized efforts to clarify the responsibilities of government agencies within the ports, aiming to reduce overlaps and eliminate duplication of duties.
In response to security challenges on waterways, the deployment of the deep blue sea project equipped with air and sea assets is expected to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea, significantly reducing piracy incidents within Nigerian waters.
Collaborating closely with the Nigerian Customs Service, the NPA aims to streamline processes, reduce bottlenecks, and cut the cost of doing business within the ports. Bello-Koko revealed the development of a comprehensive 25-year port master plan that will guide the location, sizes, and activities of ports, terminals, and jetties in Nigeria—a crucial national working document for marine and logistics development.
President of PMAWCA, Martin Boguikouma, urged African countries to address challenges to accommodate the new volume of traffic due to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Collaboration between customs and port authorities, capacity building, and investment in efficient transport infrastructure were highlighted as key measures to address these challenges.