Hadiza Bala-Usman, NPA MD.
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NIJ) Lagos State Council, Mr Adeleye Ajayi, said the union would partner with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Ajayi.said this during a Courtesy visit by the executive members of the council to the corporate headquarters of NPA in Lagos on Wednesday.
Ajayi congratulated the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, for her second term ticket of five years approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ajayi noted that the new five-year tenure was well deserved by the managing director.
He commended the management of NPA for port infrastructure upgrade, commissioning of Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence Centre, construction of rail line at the ports, barges being used to convey cargoes to Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, Revenue Invoice Management Scheme (RIMS) aimed at improving NPA’ revenue system.
He also noted that under the leadership of Bala Usman, six new tug boats were inaugurated for operational efficiency, saying that NPA successful berthed Egina FPSO project vessel.
Ajayi added that NPA had kept its budget open to the public through the MOU with the BudgIT Information Technology Network.
He also noted that the union was happy with the management of NPA over the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system newly-introduced to ease the perennial gridlock on port access roads.
The NUJ Chairman lauded the establishment of dedicated terminals to handle exports,
“It is a thing of joy that your administration partnered with Dangote Construction Company and Flour Mills for the reconstruction of the Apapa-Wharf and Ijora Link Bridge.
“NPA has shown commitment to 24-hour port operations, pilotage and berthing of vessels,’’ Ajayi said.
Ajayi also commended training and retraining programmes of NPA toward improving its manpower.
He urged the management of NPA to work on the port development plan.
He expressed concern about the persistent gridlock on Lagos ports access roads and suggested that shipping companies should not reject empty containers.
He was of the view that empty containers should be shipped back to their ports of origin.
In view of the upsurge in imports, Ajayi suggested that the Federal Government should expedite action in building Ibaka deep seaport in Akwa Ibom, Olokola deep seaport in Ondo State and the Gelegele seaport in Edo State.
He also noted that dry ports or Inland Container Depots (ICDs) should take off in the six geo-political zones of the country.
According to him, NPA should also partner with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to kick-start the operations of river ports like Onitsha port, the Oguta Lake river port and others.
He said that the gridlock on port access roads was costing shippers (importers and exporters) billions of naira as demurrage and storage fees.
He said that rails should be connected to ports for faster movement of containers and other goods.
Ajayi also suggested truck holding bays before loading to allow free flow of traffic on port access roads.
“More space should also be created at the ports to create rooms for expansion, even it means that some house near the ports should go,’’ he said.
The NUJ Chairman said all these measures should be taken in order to stop loosing cargo to neighbouring ports of Togo, Ghana, Benin Republic and Cote d’Ivoire.
He solicited the assistance of NPA in completing the two-storey building undergoing remodelling as the union’s secretariat.
Ajayi also noted that to be quoted correctly at all times, there is need for NPA to sponsor journalists on training programes outside Lagos, preferably in areas where ports are located.
The Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication Department of NPA, Mr Ibrahim Nasiru, who received the NUJ Executive members on behalf of the managing director, said the organisation had gone far to normalise activities of truck owners along the Apapa corridor.
Nasiru said NPA had also made available incentives for shippers to patronise the Eastern ports.
He noted that the rehabilitation of rail lines within the ports had taken off as well as the electronic truck call-up system.
“All shipping companies are expected to provide holding bays where trucks will take the containers to them and for them to take the containers to the ports.
“We (NPA) are trying to provide good services and live up to our promise to be the hub port in Africa,’’ Nasiru said.
He went through the Architectural drawing of the building being remodeled by the union and noted that NPA would expect a letter on the project.
He said NPA would also partner with the NUJ in more areas.
The Executive members were represented at the NPA’s visit by the Chairman, Mr Adeleye Ajayi; the Secretary, Mr Tunde Olalere; the Treasurer, Mrs Iyabo Ogunjuyigbe; and the Auditor, Mr Isaac Ayodele.