The House of Representatives and the Nigerian Ports Authority have disagreed on the cause of the reduction in the number of cargoes arriving the country and the drop in revenue generated at the ports.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Usman, while appearing before the House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways in Abuja on Thursday, said Federal Government policies were mostly responsible for the low traffic at the ports.
The Chairman of the committee, Pat Asadu, however, disagreed with Usman, saying she was just scratching the surface with her prognosis, stressing that there were more and stronger reasons for the country’s loss of revenue at the ports.
The NPA boss, however, said several items that used to be imported and consumed in Nigeria were now being produced in Nigeria, while others had been banned from importation to encourage local production and consumption.
Usman said, “We have noted a reduction in traffic coming into our ports. We attribute this to the fact that Nigeria has been advocating for self-sustenance in terms of manufacturing and consuming what it produces. And so, this attendant reduction in cargo, in our understanding, is attributable to that. Because some of the items that constitute this drop include, for example, the automobile policy which has increased the cost of importation of automobiles from 30 to 70 per cent, in order to stimulate manufacturing in Nigeria. So, there is a steep decline in the importation of vehicles.
“We also have an additional list of items that have been banned for importation. This is to try to stimulate production of certain items in the country and ensuring that most levels of agricultural produce are produced and consumed in Nigeria.
“So, you can see the number of ocean-going vessels is reducing. The agencies that work around revenue generation for the importation of cargo will be seen not to have performed.”
Not satisfied with the explanation, Asadu said, “I don’t want us to just dismiss this. You may want to look to see what other things are going on. I think, maybe, we should look at things like the efficiency of cargo clearance. We know what is going on with the congestions at the ports. I have no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of other factors.”
The lawmaker added that the euphoria that the country was producing more than importing certain items should not frustrate the efforts to seek proper solutions to the problems.