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Bill to encourage private sector participation in ports operation passes second reading

by Business News Report

A Bill seeking legislative framework to provide enabling environment for private sector participation in maritime sector scaled through second reading on Tuesday at the House of Representatives.The Bill, which seeks to amend Nigerian Ports Authority Act, Cap. N126, 1999 and for other related matters, was sponsored by Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta).

Leading debate on the bill, Ossai proposed 60 amendments of the principal sections of the NPA Act, including the change of the title from ‘Nigerian Ports Authority’ to ‘Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority’.

The change, according to him, is to make it all-inclusive port operations.

Ossai said that Singapore had been currently ranked as one of the 12 leading economies in the world, leveraging on ports and harbours.

He therefore expressed optimism that Nigeria had enormous potential to boost its foreign exchange revenue and employment through private sector participation.

Ossai explained that the proposed amendment to the existing law was to introduce concession arrangement that would encourage private sector participation and promote competition.

While calling for overhaul of the existing Act in order to boost private sector funding, he observed that there was no legislative backing for port concession initiated by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Bill further seeks to vest ownership of ports and harbours on the authority “for and on behalf of the Federal Government’’.

The bill also seeks to grant concessions to private entities in accordance with laid down processes and ensure proper management and development of the ports and habours across the country.

“In African sub-regional level of our coastal activities, Nigeria plays an important role, when viewed from the vantage location of our country within the West and Coastal African sub-region.

“Nigeria offers transit shipment services to her West Coast neighbours and therefore serves as the gateway to her land-locked neighbours.

“Therefore, the need for a total overhaul of our port system to leverage on both the local and regional economic growth of our nation cannot be overemphasized,” Ossai said.

He said that many sections, including 107 and 108, of the existing Act would be amended to address various offences ranging from evasion of dues, false statements, safety of vessels, illegal piloting and damage to lighthouses.

The Bill proposes four-year tenure for the Managing Director and renewable for additional one term of four years as it will repose confidence in the administration of the ports and harbours.

The Bill was unanimously passed by members, and the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, referred it to the Committee on Ports and Harbours and Waterways for further action.


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