Fresh details have emerged on the disagreement between the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, and the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, on the procurement of equipment to execute the job of managing channels in the Nigerian ports.
The Ministry of Transportation had, in a statement by its Permanent Secretary, Dr Magdalene Ajani, claimed that the NPA under the suspended MD, sidestepped a clear directive to procure equipment and not to proceed with award of contract for the management of the channels (capital/maintenance and wreck removals).
This, as learnt, was after his request for a one-year extension of the contract of the JV contractors handling the project fell through due to the objection by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which insisted that instead of extension of contract period by a year, fresh public tenders should be conducted.
According to available information, it consequent upon the inability of the NPA to extend the contract period that the Ministry directed the NPA to go ahead and procure dredging equipment and to stop awarding channel management contracts to outsiders.
Per Second News gathered that the development was contrary to the claim being bandied by the Ministry that the NPA did not obey its directive, whereas it actually did the needful by seeking a no objection of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) to extend the contract as requested by the minister.
It was gathered that despite the claims and counter claims, the contract in question has not been awarded as it is still undergoing procurement process, including the obligatory approvals by the Ministerial Tenders’ Board and the Federal executive Council, (FEC).
A source close to the development in the Ministry of Transportation and the NPA said that the Minister had requested that NPA should extend the existing JV partners for one year at the expiration of their 15-year contract in August 2020.
The source said that “In line with the PPA, the NPA sought the no objection of BPP to extend the contact for one year in line with the Minister’s directive. The BPP declined the request and directed the NPA to proceed and conduct public tenders for the JV partner.
“Following the decline by BPP of the extension directed by the Minister, he (the Minister) then sent a letter to the authority that it should procure the dredgers and not proceed with the tender and to provide information about costs in wreck removal.”
Per Second News gathered that the immediate problem that the NPA had to contend with was the fact that there no provision for procurement of the equipment in the 2020 and 2021 budgets.
Besides, it was reasoned that even if the money was to be vired in the budgets, the procurement of the dredgers was not going to happen in the twinkling of an eye as it would take a long time to accomplish.
The source also raised the issue of maintenance of the equipment for which the NPA lacks the manpower resources to undertake. “It would take time and resources to train the manpower to enable them handle the maintenance of the equipment and wreck removals, which are the forte of the JV partners.”
Per Second News also gathered that the cost of procuring the equipment is very huge, explaining the reason channels managements are globally done through third party contractors (international dredging companies) who own the equipment which they deploy in their various sites globally.
To be on top of its game, the NPA is expected, in addition to having trained manpower resources to maintain the equipment, acquire equipment which include but not limited to Jumbo Trailing Suction Hopper Dredgerwhich costs about €200,000,000.00 (N 92.8bn); Medium Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger, which costs about €100,000,000.00 (N 46.4bn); Cutter Suction Dredger, which costs about €150,000,000.00 (N 69.6bn); Grab Dredger, which costs about €150,000,000.00 (N 69.6bn); Heavy Lift Wreck Salvage Vessel, which costs about €60,000,000.00 (N 27.84bn); Multicart (for Bouys Maintenance), which costs about €10,000,000.00 (N 4.64bn); and, Tug Boat, which costs about €15,000,000.00 (N6.96bn) all at the approximate rate of One Euro to N464.