The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has lost N61 million to an alleged scam project meant to ease off the Apapa access roads traffic gridlocks.
The immediate past Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi who approved the payment could not believe that it was a scam. It was a project he believed in so much because of his commitment to resolve the perennial Apapa access roads traffic jam.
He betrayed his emotions when the leadership of some truck owners association visited him, recently. Asked about the ultra-modern integrated logistics terminal situated at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Badagry Express way, Lagos, mid-wifed by Multi-Aulic Ltd, the ex-NPA boss asked them about the whereabouts of the lead Promoter, Alhaji Alhasan Dantata, insisting to see him. “Where is Dantata? I want to see Dantata. Get him for me! He demanded. Later, one of the executive directors of NPA confided in somebody that NPA was fleeced N61 million by Multi-Aulic Limited.
Alhaji Dantata, who is the Managing Director of Multi-Aulic limited, had told MMS Plus weekly that Multi-Aulic Limited is a special purpose venture, which is a joint venture between Aulic Nigeria Limited, the concessionaire of the Lagos International Trade fair complex and Multi-Trade Limited.
The aggrieved executive director of NPA also narrated to the management of Aulic how NPA was entrapped in the project because of the urgency to resolve the perennial chaotic traffic gridlock through a presumably realistic concept of SPV provided by Mullti-Trade Limited.
According to the executive director, the money was paid as a facilitatory fund to help the project take off, after having been told that all parties, including the truck owners associations had signed an agreement for the integrated logistic terminal which has a truck parking lot and terminal facilities at the trade fair.
Surprisingly, MMS Plus Weekly gathered that the Multi-Aulic Limited initiative never took off even when NPA spent N61 million on it.
Also, the management of Aulic Nigeria Limited allegedly lost over N40million in the project through the illegal sales of over one hundred trailer loads of sands allegedly sold by Multi-Trade Ltd, from the terminal. The trips of sands were scrapped from the terminal to provide a level surface for modern concrete flooring suitable for container terminals. But the trip of sands were sold but no flooring was done by Multi-Trade. At a point it became a police case with some of the Multi-Trade workers arrested and detained.
In his own defence, the promoter of the project, Dantata, said he spent over N250 million on the project, explaining that the project never took off, adding that the major problem was the fight between the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government of Lagos State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Federal Government which is the owner of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Lagos.
Another hiccup to the project was the access road. He said that the Gov. of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola had told him that the project would create traffic jam at that axis.
However, with the project deadlocked from Multi-Aulic Limited initiative and Dantata out of the game with millions of naira lost, from all sides, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) in collaboration with other partnering firms have swung into action to make the project a reality.
Speaking with MMS Plus Weekly,the chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi said the association had contacted the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), NPA and had gone far with the management of Aulic Nigeria Ltd on the new move.
Earlier, Dantata had said that the project was situated on 50 hectares of developed land, with 5, 000 truck parking capacity and 100, 000 TEU’s capacity. It is 4 kilometers away from Mile 2 and 6 kilometers from Tin-can Island and Apapa port. The terminal is divided into three with Terminal 1 for containers and cars, while terminal 2 and 3 are reserved for parking of trucks. It is envisioned to clear the Mile 2-wharf road and other Lagos roads off trucks and trailers especially rickety ones creating traffic log-jam and environmental menace.
The project will also provide pre-gate vehicle inspection, stacking of empty containers for onward delivery to shipping lines through port operations, clearing and forwarding, overtime containerized cargo, dry port and bonded terminal services.
One of the phantom promises Multi-Trade and Multi-Aulic never kept was plans to phase out some ageing trucks off the roads by procuring 2000 pieces of Mack Trucks worth over $200 million from the United States. The trucks were meant to be given to the partnering truck owners associations under the leadership and supervision of AMATO.
But it was never achieved, as about 5 truck were hired from Lanre Shittu motors and kept at the site for some time. They were moved away as soon as NPA paid the N61 million.
Meanwhile, enjoy the brief interview with Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, the Managing Director of the dedlocked Multi-Aulic Ltd as well as the Multi-Trade Ltd., initiators of the integrated logistics terminal-truck parking lot at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Lagos.
What is the issue with the truck terminal now?
The genesis of that concept is that there is no parking space because all the parking spaces that trucks were using before have been converted to container terminals. The port concession never made spaces for trucks inside the ports and so the trucks have to come out on the roads. But the multi-trade concept which I initiated to help resolve the situation- traffic gridlock on Apapa access roads never took off.
There is this allegation from one of the top management members of NPA that the authority spent N61 million on the project and now you said the project never took off, how real is that?
I would not know. It is better you get Chief Collins, the Chairman of Multi-Trade. Like I told you, I can show you that we have spent N250 million or thereabout on that project.
Was this spent by Multi-Aulic?
No. no. no. Kingsley, that is what I was telling you. Multi-Aulic never took off.
Ok. Who spent the N250 million?
Multi-Trade. Everything you saw there – the fencing wire, the toilet, the camera; infact, anything you see. Yes, the eatery, called “green house”. The salary of the security men, among others. Everything was done by me on behalf of Multi-Trade. But Multi-Aulic never took off the ground. It was completely comatose and never operated for one day because the inaugural board meeting never took place. Every penny that was spent was spent in the name of Multi-Trade but was brought by Alhaji Dantata. I have got the balance-sheet, I have got everything with me.
NPA said they spent N61 million on the project and you said it did not take off …but you spent N250 million.
No, we spent more than that. If for instance, the budget takes off today, of course, everybody benefits. I know what I have spent, I don’t know what NPA has spent.
How did NPA get involved in spending money here?
If NPA is involved in maritime and it is looking for a relief then it could contribute to ensure that the project takes off. But like I said every penny that was spent there was brought and spent by me. If Multi-Aulic had taken off and there was contributions from different parties, then we can discuss that. But now I feel more aggrieved as an investor and as the creator of the concept. Nobody is even thinking about where Dantata found the money he invested there. So if you want to query NPA on what basis they came on board, fine go ahead. But I cannot be queried because it is my entire concept and I have my proof and evidence of expenditure. Yes, yes, yes. I cannot be queried.