The Nigerian Ports Authority has said the charges imposed on vessels calling at the nation’s ports by the operators of the Secured Anchorage Area contribute to the high cost of doing business at Nigerian ports.
The NPA stated this in a reply to a petition brought against it by the Association of Professionals for Safety in Shipping in Nigeria.
The SAA is a private security and escort services for vessels calling at ports.
For fear of attacks by pirates and criminals, vessels waiting to berth at the ports usually drop anchor at the SAA where they are charged per day for the provision of security and escort services.
The SAA is managed by a private company, OMSL, in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy.
The NPA, reacting to concerns by stakeholders about the exorbitant fees charged at the SAA, took a decision to dismantle the structure.
Among other claims in its petition which was brought before the National Assembly, Apossin stated that $2000 charged vessel owners per day by operators of the SAA was to offset the cost of acquisition of patrol boats and provision of the logistics support needed to operate them to achieve a round-the-clock presence required to deter criminal elements.
Responding, the NPA said report of investigation from shipping companies who patronised the SAA revealed that vessels were charged $2,500 for the first two days and $1,500 for subsequent days.
The revenue was neither remitted to the NPA nor the Federal Government from 2014 till date, the agency stated.
“Furthermore, the authority submits that the charges at the SAA add up to the NPA’s high port charges for vessels coming to Nigeria.”
The agency said in order to justify the existence of the SAA, false information was documented in the Naval Admiralty Chart No 1381 of Lagos Ports Limits and Approaches dated March 10, 2011.
In the chart, which was published in collaboration with the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, the impression was created that the NPA anchorage was ill-equipped and unsecured, hence the need for the Secured Anchorage Area run by a private company.
“This is contrary to the assessment of the same facility by the International Maritime Organisation which commended the NPA for the standard of facilities and security at the location,” the agency noted.
The OMSL had said the SAA was outside the jurisdiction of the NPA but the agency responded that the the SAA falled within the Lagos Pilotage District under the control of the NPA.
It maintained that publication of Notices to Mariners on vessels calling at the Nigerian ports as regards the port limits and approaches was the responsibility of the NPA and not NIMASA.
It said the observations and high cost to vessels coming to Nigeria arising from the OMSL charges necessitated it seeking the intervention of the Minister of Transportation to dismantle the facility.
Before dismantling the SAA, the minister had series of meetings with stakeholders and regulators in the maritime industry and at the end of the deliberations, directed the NPA to dismantle the facility.
The NPA reiterated that the SAA was run by the OMSL with logistics support from the Nigerian Navy.