- Bello Koko
By Anthony Nwachukwu
Sixteen years post port concession, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have described Nigeria’s model as the best in Africa, while pledging continued investment assistance in port infrastructure, including at Lekki Deep Seaport.
The assessment was given when the World Bank Nigeria Office, led by the Senior Transport Specialist, Olatunji Ahmed, and IFC Principal Investment Officer, Infrastructure, Christian Mulamula, led a delegation on a working visit to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over the weekend.
They expressed both world organisations’ willingness to work with NPA in improving port infrastructure under a public private partnership arrangement between the agency and other third-parties, while also requesting for a project tracker report on the actions and milestones in the port concession programme so far.
Ahmed assured that the World Bank Group would continue to partner Nigeria and other interested countries to develop a safe, green, efficient and inclusive transport infrastructure and services, and would sustain assistance to the NPA in its quest to become the preferred cargo destination in Africa.
He further informed that his office would assist the agency in its review of port concession agreements with terminal operators, including in issues of governance, pricing, operations, transit/exit from the port, traffic management and other key issues, as outlined in the framework.
Also, Mulamula disclosed that the IFC would invest in the Lekki Deep Seaport project, and was willing to support the terminal operators upgrade their facilities and equipment. He further disclosed IFC’s plan to invest funds for the rehabilitation of the Tin-Can Island Port as a private participation in infrastructure (PPI) project.
On their part, and towards an efficient port operation that will enable both government and businesses to provide affordable and sustainable services that will reduce poverty and inequality, the NPA requested the World Bank to continue its collaboration on port infrastructure development.
NPA Managing Director, Mohammed Bello Koko, noted that the port concession exercise has clearly enhanced Nigeria’s goal of becoming the leading blue economy in Africa, according to a statement from the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Ibrahim Nasiru.
He added that his administration was focused on facilitating a port-led industrialisation for the country through infrastructural renewal and deployment of modern technology tools. He further commended the bank’s excellent support under its private participation in infrastructure (PPI) scheme.
Urging a sustained synergy, especially as the agency seeks alternative funding sources to bridge its infrastructure gaps, he added: “We look forward to better collaboration in the development of more mega or deep-sea ports across the country with world class facilities, high quality and efficient operating system, like the Lekki Deep Seaport is now our priority.
“With the quality of attention being paid by the Federal Government to port infrastructure renewal, we are very confident that moving goods to and from Nigerian ports would soon be top of the range, cost-efficient and comparable with the leading ports of the world.
“We have made remarkable progress tackling the intractable traffic gridlock on the port access roads with the deployment of an electronic call-up system for trucks, called ‘Eto’. There is room for improvement. The Apapa axis is good but on the Tin-Can axis, we’re calling for a quick fix before the rains.”
Koko further disclosed that-the 25 Year Port Masterplan, which had earlier suffered some glitches, was now back on track, and that the agency would collaborate with the World Bank to operationalise it.