The Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) may have concluded discussion with the African Export and Import, AfriExim Bank to secure $800 million facility to fix the dilapidated port infrastructure in the country.
While the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko has said that the rehabilitation of four ports in the country will gulp $800 million,the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo who explained last week why there seem to have delayed action on the rehabilitation plan on the port facility since he visited them for on the spot assessment last year, confirmed that NPA had commenced talks with officials of AfroExim bank who had expressed readiness but with conditions that are not insurmountable for NPA.
He further disclosed that a delegation of NPA management had also held meeting with the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The ports according to him are: Tin Can Island Port, Apapa Port in Lagos, Onne Port in Rivers State, rehabilitation of the Escravos breakwaters in Warri Port and the Calabar Port in Cross River.
Answering questions from the media during his visit to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) last week, the Minister, said: “Well, when you identify a problem and you don’t see anything physically happening it will create the impression that the matter has been forgotten. We have the quay apron and quay wall problem in Tin can island. We have collapsed quay wall problem also at Onne port, we have the challenge of breakwaters at Warri Escravos. These are dilapidation that will cost us millions of dollars.
“We must go through the entire process of public procurement Act as required by law. We cannot cut corners. First of all, we have to make sure that we have the correct structural designs, we have to make sure that the cost is well done; we have to be sure that every survey is done whether biometric or hydrological. And at the end of the day, this must go to the Federal Executive Council. Above all, does NPA have the resources in hundreds millions of dollars for it now? The answer is No.
“So we are looking at major options of financing such major rehabilitations. They will have to resort to borrowing . And if you must borrow, you will borrow in such a way that you will not distort the revenue flow of government and ensure that you are not borrowing at a huge cost. The good news is that NPA earns harbour dues in dollars so most financial institutions will be very happy to finance such projects.
“I know NPA is talking to AfroExim bank for example, and they are also talking to some local banks, may be NEXIM bank and others. They are also looking at the options of doing it through ECPF, that is, Engineering Construction Plus Financing;by contractor or directly by NPA . And then, how do you pay back in either of the cases? All these are happening right now as I speak. NPA is almost concluding this process. I am aware that the managing director made a visit to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to discuss all these options with him. There are certain conditions that AfroExim bank has put forward.They are three key conditions. I know that two of them are very easy to meet. The third one involves Sovereign Guarantee and we needed to clear that. You need to know this information for you to know that we are doing a lot behind the scene so that by the time we get to the right solution we will then come to you after the necessary approvals are obtained.
According to him, “Now, whether this will happen while I am still Minister of Transportation, I cannot guarantee because different key players are involved. But we are doing our best to make sure that we hasten the process and if possible get the approvals before time runs out. If we have to hand over this baton to the next set of people, I can assure you that we have fallen our arms because we know the risk involved in not attending to this dilapidated infrastructure.”
Meanwhile,Bello-Koko spoke at the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) Europe and Africa 2023 Regional meeting which held on Thursday, February 16, covered by Persecondnews with the Vice-President of both regions, Jens Meier (Europe) and Micheal Luguje (Africa) — hosting IAPH members CEO’s to a top level discussions.
According to the NPA boss, the $800 million loan facility will be repayable in a seven- year period once secured. He also stressed the fact that the loan is still being worked out.
“The loan is repayable in a seven-year period, and this will help in the achieving the digitalization of all ports in Nigeria,’’
He also said the NPA is also looking at the option of the project being funded by the authority but that will reduce its contribution to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
He said the rehabilitation would help in achieving the digitalization of all ports in Nigeria as port rehabilitation and remedial works are no more effective.
“The rehabilitation of Tin Can Island Port in Lagos, Apapa Port in Lagos, Onne Port in Rivers State, rehabilitation of the Escravos breakwaters in Warri Port and the Calabar Port in Cross River will cost $800 million.
The NPA boss also stressed on the impact of the collaboration between the government and private sector partnership and the gains to the Nigerian ports.
He disclosed that the collaboration gave birth to the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Nigeria’s deepest seaport with an initial depth of 16.5m, noting that after the completion of the third phase the depth will be 20.5m.