NPA to liberalise free trade zones in Nigeria
Rotimi Amechi, Transport Minister
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, has concluded plans to break the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by some oil and gas logistics firms, by liberalising operations of oil and gas free trade zones in the country.
She has achieved this by getting President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for a policy review, which guaranteed the right of importers to choose terminals or ports of their choice for the discharge of cargo.
It was gathered that the approval formed part of the memo which says,, “Following a review of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s, (FGN), policy directive over the years in respect of the concessions and applicable legal regime by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, on reform and implementation as a veritable mechanism for development of the maritime industry, investments made to date, general global practice in designation of terminals, right of importers to choose terminals for discharge of their cargoes, streamlining of shipping and other fees, The President has conveyed approval on 21st April, 2017 to the Minister of Transport on the final position in the following terms”.
“FGN remains guided by global practice in designation of terminal/Ports operations into three categories of bulk cargo, container cargo and multipurpose cargo. The FGN rejects categorisation of oil and gas multi-purpose cargo terminal, as this is alien to relevant concession agreements and inconsistent with global shipping practice.”
“The non-designation of Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone as an ‘Oil and Gas Multi-purpose Cargo Terminal’ does not in any way legally obstruct operations of Onne, as an Oil and Gas Free Zone, rather, it indicates that all cargo including oil and gas can be discharged at the terminal”. It added,
“FGN reaffirms past presidential directives that all importers are free to choose any terminal for the discharge of their cargoes, subject to the presence of all requisite regulatory agencies at such ports, as required by extant regulations and in line with its policy of promoting competition and value for money. Consequently, any policy that designates certain ports by cargo type is cancelled.”
“NPA and the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, are to streamline payment of shipping and other fees at various terminals in a manner that ensures such fees are based on cargo type, rather than on designation of terminals, to ensure that there is no loss of revenue due to FGN, based on terminals that importers choose to bring cargoes into the country.”
“Our investigation revealed that the previous administration directed that $500 million oil and gas investment project be relocated from Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics base, “LADOL”, Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Lagos to Agga in Bayelsa State. The project was in partnership with a South Korean company. The two companies were to build fabrication and integration yards for Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facility for the use of local and foreign-owned oil companies.”
Reacting, the Managing Director of LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, said the timing of the letters was wrong and capable of destroying the gains made by the partners in the project.
“Efforts were made by oil and gas operators to build one of the biggest floating vessels in the world, in order to make Nigeria the oil and gas hub in West Africa. We got the two letters the same day. LADOL does not have problems with NPA because they are using our facility. NPA has an office in LADOL Free Trade Zone.NPA had severally said that LADOL is the largest private investor in its facility.”
By the end of 2017, LADOL would have invested $500million in NPA facility, apart from creating over 2,000 direct jobs to Nigerians as the fabrication lasts. It will also guarantee technological expertise of foreigners to Nigerians after the fabrication.
The NPA boss would seem to have delivered on her promise by setting up a policy reform committee whose recommendations were approved last month by the President”, she said.