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NPA vows to upgrade country’s maritime hub status

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Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

In a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos by NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Olaseni Alakija, Bello-Koko disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun,  at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of directors.

The theme of the retreat was “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence.”

He noted that investments in modern deep seaports would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

The statement said Bello-Koko disclosed that a lot had been done, especially in the last few months, to resolve most of the identified constraints to the efficient movement of cargoes to and from ports.

Such efforts, he said, were in line with the new direction and measures being put in place to actualise NPA’s aspirations,

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 per cent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement.

“This was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat with the theme ‘To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa,” he said.

The statement said the acting managing director described the board retreat as very timely, as it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision.

According to him, the vision is one in which the executive management works closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate and embraces an all-inclusive strategic outcome for the organisation with the requisite buy-in of the board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the board with regards to the executive management’s limitations in actualising some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat,” he added.

The NPA boss informed the board that recent interventions made by the authority had led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.

He, however, explained that some of the benchmarks which were yet to be achieved were dependent on “externalities and variables” that required concerted inter-agency actions.

He said that NPA, despite dogged efforts, has yet to optimally achieve the said benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and red-tape.

He enumerated the constraints as conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the ports and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplications of functions.

He informed the board that concerted efforts were being made to expand NPA’s revenue streams, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.

According to him, unlike the practice in sister Francophone countries where government funds the dredging of ports, the NPA was responsible for funding its.

This, he said, has put a lot of strains on its resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.

“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at the Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar Ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.

“With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities.

“There is then the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings,” he stated.

Bello-Koko explained that the authority was blessed with prime real estates which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.

“NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones.

* Apapa Wharf

“They are mostly allocated but burdened by poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the authority and the Federal Government.

“Management will need the support of the board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualise the lofty aspirations of the authority,” he said.

The Acting MD also disclosed that management had opened correspondence with some multilateral financial institutions such as the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp).

He explained that these were all part of plans to access long term low interest credits for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

“In making the Nigerian seaports more business friendly, we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor.

“A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.

“The authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lily Pond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.

“The trucks would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform and the authority is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system, he said.

He added that other solutions being implemented was the push to link all seaports to the national rail network, as well as optimise the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Bello-Koko said that currently the authority was streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

He said that the Bonny Seaport project in Rivers, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South-South and South-Eastern regions.

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University Student Delivers Quintuplets

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A 400-level student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture in Umudike, Abia State, Oluomachi Nwojo, has been delivered of a set of quintuplets.

The 24-year-old student of Environmental Management, a native of Abriba in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State, was delivered of the babies on Monday at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia through caesarean section.

Oluomachi had two baby boys and three girls.

Speaking, the final-year student expressed happiness at the delivery of her babies, describing it as a wonderful experience.

She said: “This is my first delivery and I am grateful to God for making me a partaker of this wonderful blessing.

“I believe God knows the best for my children; I am feeling fine and gradually recuperating from the birth of my babies.

“I am calling on the government and good-spirited individuals to help me in training the babies because I cannot carry the burden alone.

“At this stage, I need assistance to buy milk and other necessities for the babies.”

The Director of Protocol at the hospital, Darlington Madubuko, said the delivery of the quintuplets was the first of multiple deliveries at the facility.

“The hospital records more than 50 multiple births annually and our staff are well trained to successfully handle such cases.

“We have had quadruplets before now, but this is the first time the hospital is recording the birth of quintuplets in the recent past.

“The two male babies are in the neonatal unit of the hospital receiving treatment and the three female babies are with their mother in the postnatal ward,” Madubuko said.
(PRNigeria)

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Relief, as Remaining Abuja-Kaduna Train Kidnap Victims are Released!

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The families and friends of the 23 remaining passengers who were held hostage by bandits following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train, can now heave a sigh of relief following their release by the Nigerian Military Wednesday afternoon.

This development was confirmed in a statement issued Wednesday by the Secretary of the Chief of Defense Staff Action Committee (CDSAC), Prof. Usman Yusuf.

The terrorists had attacked the Kaduna-bound train on 28 March, 2022 and captured scores of passengers.

While many had been released on paying huge ransom to the terrorists, 23 abducted passengers remained with the bandits.

Secretary, Chief of Defense Staff Action Committee (CDSAC), Prof. Usman Yusuf, said on Wednesday that the remaining captives had been released this afternoon.

He said they were set free around 4.00pm on Wednesday.

“I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 1600Hrs. (4:00pm) today, Wednesday 5-10-2022, the seven-man Presidential Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L E O Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram Terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022,” he said.

Yusuf stated that the country owed a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.

He added that all sister Security Agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation.

“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR is what made it all possible.

“Members of this Committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this Humanitarian Operation. May God Almighty Heal Our Wounds and Bring Peace to Our Land,” he said.

The statement however, did not say if the release was secured through negotiation with the bandits, or the use of force.

It was also silent on the fate of a female member of the victims who was said to have been taken as wife by the bandits’ leader.

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Court Awards N540M to Prophet Omale in Case Against FCMB

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A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja has awarded the sum of N540 million in damages to Prophet Emmanuel Omale against a commercial bank over alleged negligence and defamation.

Justice Yusuf Halilu on Tuesday held that the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) breached its fiduciary duty of care to Prophet Omale, which caused him to be summoned by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating a former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, including defamation of his name.

Omale, who is the General Overseer of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministries International, an inter-denominational deliverance and prophetic ministry, had filed the suit through his counsel, Gordy Uche (SAN) demanding the sum of N5 billion in damages against the bank.

According to the Prophet, the judicial panel of inquiry summoned him in July 2020 after the bank sometime in 2016, negligently and falsely in its computer system generated weekly automated report to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) of a “suspicious” credit inflow of N573, 228, 040. 41 (Five Hundred and Seventy Three Million Naira, Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight Thousand, Forty Naira and 41 kobo) into the church’s corporate account No: 1486743019 in line with the Money Laundering Prevention Act; the Economic and Financial Crimes Act and the Terrorism Prevention Act, which mandates it to report any suspicious financial transaction of its customers.

He said the false alert and the summons caused his name to be dragged in the mud in the media which caused him untold hardship, trauma and great financial losses, which the bank owned up in its letter published in three national newspapers.

The judge awarded an aggravated damage of N200 million, special damage of N140,500 million, and N200 million in general damages.

“The conduct of the Defendant in this case, clearly from the evidence that have been made out, is certainly careless and negligent; it is certainly not careless and negligent but unprofessional”, the judge said

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