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- Background of the study
Maritime transport plays an important role of being many nations’ major gateway for international trade and are a good instrument for measuring the economic health of a nation (Ogunsiji & Ogunsiji, 2010, UNCTAD, 2008). The ports have considerable influence on the volume and conditions of trade as well as the capacity for economic development of nations still developing. In Nigeria, greater percentage of international trade is routed through the sea, and given its huge population, it is believed that the Nigerian economy may account for about 70% of all seaborne trade in the West African sub-region (Fivestar Logistics, 2008). Hence, the country’s ports are increasingly challenged to meet the pressure mounted from movement of ships and cargo in and out of the ports. The pattern of port reforms all over the world is towards deregulating, revitalizing, decentralizing and privatizing the sector and organizes competition within it. However, port reforms are policy measures by government that are aimed at revitalizing, strengthening operational and functional modalities at the ports, thereby resulting in increased efficiency and productivity
Relatively, it is pertinent to understand that the concept of concession is an integral part of a privatization principle that sees the actual contracting out of the management of the port to private sector for a period of time. It is the process by which the assets of a state-owned enterprise are entrusted to a private operator for a limited period of time whose duration can be extended. It main objective which reflect an aspect of globalize policy is basically to ensure gradual divestment of government shares from the public ports and transferring same to private management hands, which ignites increased efficiency, performance, productivity and competition amongst the ports. It is also aimed at transforming, restructuring and reforming the ports, thereby creating user-friendly ports with an improved operational performance and functions. This concept of concession if adequately implement will reduce undue waiting time of vessels and increased vessel turn-around time at the ports, manifesting in lower operating costs of vessels, sheds, cargo berths and terminals at the end.
The embrace of port reform in Nigeria is aimed at making our ports not only user-friendly but also investor-friendly, by achieving shorter turn-around time of vessels, transparent shipping operations and reduction in shipping cost and losses, which in turn leads government into providing modern cargo handling plants and equipment to enhance smooth operations at the ports. However, it is imperative to state clearly that the operational functionality of the port terminal operations through the provisions, of super structures and infrastructural facilities will increase the efficiency, performance and productivity of any port system, thereby registering an appreciable cargo throughput at the end of the day. Unfortunately, this has never been the case for Nigerian ports, which over the years have suffered from numerous problems which are identified as but not limited to port neglects, lack of infrastructural facilities and funding, lack of shipping policy, inconsistence of government policy, undue interruptions and interventions by government in maritime issues and operations, management problems, high port charges, ageing port infrastructure, cumbersome and bureaucratic cargo clearance, inadequate investment in equipment. These challenges however over the year have hindered the operational functionality, performance, flow of administrative links and development of Nigerian ports.
The growth in shipping business, the need for congenial business environment of the ports, advent of containerization and advances in cargo handling methods which imposed considerable infrastructure requirements in seaports, the growing inability of government to finance its owned ports and other risen challenges has led to deregulation processes of Nigeria ports this in turn introduced several measures aimed at minimizing and correcting anomalies and malaise in the port services and maritime industry as a whole
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