The Ministry of Transportation has explained that it objected to the award of contracts for the management of channels by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) because it is more cost-effective for the NPA to procure necessary equipment and execute the contracts in-house.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the ministry described the allegation that the Minister, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, recommended two Chinese companies to execute the contracts as malicious, unfounded and a deliberate attempt to drag the reputation and the integrity of the minister in the mud.
The statement disclosed that while channel management contracts had been routinely awarded over the years by the NPA at a cost of between N50 billion and N60 billion on an annual basis, Amaechi had adopted a firm position that the NPA should undertake the job of channel management on an in-house basis through the acquisition of the necessary machinery and professional capacity to stop the humongous annual sums paid out to dredging contractors by the agency.
The ministry, in the statement noted that the channel management contracts for the Lagos, Bonny and Port-Harcourt Channels expired in 2020, while the contractual process for the renewal of the said contracts commenced early in 2021.
According to the statement, Amaechi, had while responding to a request for the NPA to provide requisite details related to the proposed transactions directed on January 22, 2021: "There is the need for NPA to know that NPA should purchase their own equipment and not award any contract.
"The letter requested the NPA to provide the following information for the ministry's records and further necessary action: The current status of the managing agent contract and the measures put in place to cover the vacuum created as a result of the expiration of the contract to prevent revenue loss to the government;
"The current status of the Lagos and Bonny/Port Harcourt Channel management companies and the measures put in place to cover the gap created by the expired contracts to ensure the channels are maintained for safe navigation and efficient service delivery;
"The volume dredged annually from the channels and the depths achieved from inception management contracts to date and the amount expended;
"The number of wrecks removed annually by the Channel Management Companies from inception of the contracts and amount spent; and
"The total number of buoys replaced or maintained during the life span of the contract and the amount spent.
"I am to also convey the directives on the need for the Authority to procure its equipment for the service and cease from awarding any such contract."
The ministry's statement said despite the fact the above letter was duly received by the NPA on February 2, 2021, NPA did not deem it necessary till date to respond to the ministerial directives.
The ministry said in keeping with the best traditions of the public service, it would not be drawn into an endless media war.
According to the statement, the agenda being pursued in the media could best be canvassed before the administrative panel it has set up to unravel issues surrounding the management of the NPA since 2016.
"The panel has been charged to be fair and equitable in its deliberations and will certainly, ensure that the primary purpose of the inquiry is the promotion of the principles of transparency and accountability which are strongly espoused in the present political dispensation," the statement added.