The Nigeria Ports Authority is the government agency responsible for providing port facilities and maritime services in all Nigerian seaports, oil terminals and jetties. It was established by the ports Acts 1954 and began operation on 1st April 1955. Its activities are supervised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, a department of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies regarding ports, shipping, aviation, waterways, and rail matters.
Over the years, the Nigeria Ports Authority was faced with the task of improving the ports to cope with the ever-increasing demand for efficient port services. The need for port development actually rose during the first national development plan (1962-1968) when the second Apapa Wharf Extension, with six additional berths, was constructed. A more urgent need for port development appeared immediately after the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970).
The closure of other ports during the war created congestion at the Lagos port and it became necessary to expand and modernize other ports. In addition, there was a dramatic increase in port traffic as a result of the oil boom experienced in the early 1970s. Furthermore, there was the need to repair and reactivate the eastern ports that were damaged during the war.
Although the Nigeria port authority tried to improve port facilities in line with technological developments in maritime transportation, its efforts were still short of expectations. It then became obvious that there was a need for deregulation of the ports. Major reasons put forward for reform included:
- Inefficiency in operation resulting in a slow turnaround of vessels
- Poor yard management with insufficient and obsolete cargo handling equipment as well as container/cargo tracking facilities3.
- The insecurity of cargo.
- Unproductive labour force.5.
- Corrupt practices6.
- Excessive port charges
Port reforms were then aimed at raising productivity, efficiency and competitiveness in port operation. In 2006 the federal government leased out twenty-six (26) terminals with lease arrangements ranging from 10 to 25 years. Using the “landlord model”, the Nigerian port Authority coded some of its functions to private terminal operators, while it retained the regulatory role of administering the ports. The private operators would then upgrade facilities, provide modern cargo handling equipment and perform all terminal operations. Thus, port efficiency and productivity are expected to improve and competition would reduce the cost of using the ports.
The statutory function of the NPA includes the following:
- Provision of pilotage services and maintenance of lighting, lighthouses, buoys and other navigational aids
- Maintenance, improvement and regulation of the harbours and approaches of all Nigerian seaports presently open to ocean-going vessels and in such other ports as may be desired from time to time.3
- Dredging of all ports and harbours in the country to desired depths.4
- Provision and maintenance of port facilities and cargo handling equipment including bunkering of ships as well as ship repairs and maintenance services.
The major ports controlled by NPA are:-
- Lagos Port Complex- comprising Apapa Quays, Container Terminal, Bulk Terminal and Ijora Lily Pond.
- Tin Can Island Port Complex- comprising Tin Can Island Port and Ro-Ro Port.
- Rivers Port- Port Harcourt.
- Onne Port Complex- comprising Federal Lighter Terminal and the Federal Ocean Terminal.
- Delta Ports- comprising Warri, Koko, Sapele, Alajda Steel Jetty as well as Escravos, Forcados and Pennington Oil Terminals.6.
- Calabar Port- comprising the old and new ports
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