The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), in a statement made on 10 June 2019, has approved a 10 per cent discount on harbour dues for specific vessels calling at the ports in Cross River, Rivers and Delta states (the Eastern Ports) and same shall apply with immediate effect.
The specific vessels that will enjoy the discount are:
(i) container vessels with at least 250 twenty-foot equivalent units;
(ii) general cargo vessels with at least 16,000 metric tonnes;
(iii) combo vessels with at least 16,000 metric tonnes; and
(iv) roll-on-roll-off vessels with at least 250 units of vehicles.
Incidentally, the discount will not apply to the following vessels:
(i) vessels coming in ballast (without any cargo);
(ii) vessels calling at private jetties; and
(iii) vessels carrying liquid bulk.
This initiative is one of the series of steps taken by the NPA and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to decongest the Lagos port and divert vessel traffic to the Eastern Ports. For example, last year, the NPA commenced the dredging of the Warri port (which has now been completed) at the cost of N16,150,000,000.00 (Sixteen Billion One Hundred and Fifty Naira) and equally deployed equipment worth over USD30,000,000.00 (Thirty Million United States Dollars) into Onne Port in Rivers state.
The establishment of this initiative is in furtherance to the powers of NPA to, amongst others, regulate the use of Nigerian ports (Section 7(a)(b) of the Nigerian Port Authority Act, Cap. N126 LFN 2004 (the Act), and grant discounts on harbour dues in Nigerian ports (Section 71 of the Act). The provision of exemption to the aforementioned classes of ship is equally vested in the NPA.
The initiative of the NPA, which is commendable, is aimed at
(i) decongesting the Lagos port;
(ii) diverting vessel traffic away from the Lagos port and
(iii) promoting the use of the Eastern Ports.
The benefits of this initiative cannot be quantified with the fingers of one hand. The economic activities in the Eastern ports and revenue will be on the rise. Employment opportunities will be readily available. The haulage of cargoes from the Lagos port to the eastern part of Nigeria and its environs will no more be necessary.
Whilst the recent developments of the NPA are highly laudable, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency must also take steps to incentivise stakeholders to utilise the Eastern Ports to give full effect to the efforts of NPA.
For further discussion on this topic, kindly get in touch with:
Dr Echefu Ukattah
+234-1-2702551 Ext 2718