The much-expected review of the ports concession agreements inches closer to a conclusion, as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), receives the Ports Concession Assessment Framework (PCAF) Report from the World Bank.

The concession agreements were signed 13 years ago. The tenure of the concession ranged from 15 to 25 years. The Federal Government, according to estimates, earned over $6.54 billion from the concession deals sealed with the private terminal operators.

Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, had promised to review the concession agreements after several faults were discovered in the former arrangements, but a few years down the line consultations have continued to ensure that the new document favours the contracting parties.

Few days ago, NPA received a report on the Port Concession Assessment Framework, from the officials of the World Bank, which signifies significant progress in the process.

Receiving the assessment framework, NPA said it is in furtherance of its efforts to improve transparency and clarity in the evaluation of the concession agreements.

General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Jato Adams, in a chat with The Guardian, on whether the review would be ready this year, said: “Hopefully. We need to look at the report while the review is ongoing.”

Jatto had earlier said: “We have gone far in the process, we are about to round off with the negotiation we have with the concessionaires. There are still some grey areas that we need to agree on.

“We have not been able to reach agreement on those grey areas, and we will equally require the intervention of the World Bank; we are also waiting for them to know what they will come out with. The review is on course. The World Bank acts as advisor on the whole process. We are actually optimistic that this New Year, we should be able to conclude the review,” he said.

Chairman, Skelas Group of Companies and former President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA), Olayiwola Shittu, said the initial concession agreements are fraught with some shortcomings and politically motivated.

He decried a situation whereby there is no parking space for trucks, no access roads, and no room for expansion at some of the seaports in the country.

Shittu advised the Federal Government to urgently fix the ports access roads, and possibly acquire some lands and housing to give room for expansion.

“All the ports in Lagos by my understanding cannot be given to more than one concessionaire in other places of the world, because you will need to plan where to place cargo, where to stack them, the place for storage, the one for export, empty container bays, among others. But what we did in Nigeria is to give so many people to manage very little area based on political interest.

“Lagos and Port Harcourt are peculiar because there is no room for expansion. They cannot be expanded to the water and they cannot be expanded on land because the whole area has been turned to a residential area, so that is why people are looking forward to not even Lekki, but Badagry, in the plan for future.

The only alternative is to make things work for concessionaires is that the government should be ready to acquire land and housing so that they can expand.

Bala Usman had said a new regime that will further enhance efficiency in the Nigerian ports system is in the offing with the review of concession agreements to address existing loopholes and prescribe strict sanctions against defaulters.