“Operation Green”, a campaign launched by the Nigerian Ports Authority to sanitise the corridors and surrounding of the ports, has recorded a huge success, its Managing Director, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said.
Bello-Koko told newsmen on Sunday in Lagos that the operation became necessary when NPA discovered that people had turned everywhere into trailer parks and markets.
“Others converted every available space for their businesses. So we had to act swiftly.
“What we did was to ensure that those areas are safe. Those are restricted areas actually; the Port itself and the surrounding areas are restricted areas, so we can’t allow those illegalities to go on.
“We are mandated to ensure that the Ports and its environments are secured. That operation was very successful; a lot of weapons and large quantities of drugs were discovered which were handed over to security agencies.
“All the illegal trailers parked there have also been cleared. What we are doing is to clear the area and ensure that unless you have a permit to have a business there, you shouldn’t be there.
“The Lagos State Government has been very cooperative. They are also making sure that the right security agencies are involved, so you find trucks moving around, towing away vehicles.
“We discovered a lot of vehicles that have been parked for so many years being used as storage for weapons, drugs and the rest along the corridor. Lagos State Government is taking possession; NPA is also taking possession of any land that has been illegally occupied but belongs to the authority.
We want to ensure that miscreants and other illegal businesses do not take over those places,” he said.
Bello-Koko commended the Lagos State Government for its massive support over the years.
“Traditionally, that relationship has been there. The two ports here account for over 70 per cent of the cargo coming in and going out of the country.
“So, because of national interest and also out of necessity, we have had very good relationship with Lagos State Government.
“When I was appointed, I ensured that that collaboration continued. I have had a meeting with the governor who has been very supportive in the implementation of ETO, clearing the roads and so on.
“There are also collaborations in terms of the Lagos State Government Transport Development Plan. We have met with a department in Lagos State Government along with the French Development Authority. So, we will keep collaborating with Lagos State Government.”
He also spoke on other partnerships toward strengthening the operations of the ports and meeting the mandate of the NPA.
“We have met with French Development Authorities who are more like private investors supported by the French Government.
“They are looking for areas of collaboration to improve investment and businesses in Africa. What we are looking for is investment in Port Development by some of these agencies.
“Our core areas of collaboration include Port infrastructure, Marine equipment which we all know are very expensive.
“We are also looking at the sharing of capacity development with some of the partners.
“The Minister for Transportation has also been working with NPA to ensure the renewal of ports here.
“Some of the ports here are getting to their end of life; some are over 80 years, so they need reconstruction which will run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
“So, there are discussions between NPA, the terminal operators and some of these development partners on how this can be structured with the right financial model.
“May be, I should also remind you that all the ports operating here are operating far beyond their built capacity. The size of these ports are not going to increase, we can only improve their capacity and that is what we are trying to do.
“The cities have caught up with the ports, so expansion at this point is impossible. The best we can do is to improve on the existing facilities,” he said.