The Lagos ports, which comprise, the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, spend an average of N40m on electricity bills monthly.
A source at the Nigerian Ports Authority said on Friday that despite the exorbitant bills, power generation at the ports was mainly undertaken by the agency with the support of terminal operators, through the use of diesel generators, the Punch reported.
The bills were said to be issued using the estimated billing system, even though the ports had been connected to prepaid meters.
The Punch says that electricity distribution companies had threatened a showdown with debtors drawn across Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, as a result of N93bn being owed for the services.
The source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The kind of bills the NPA gets on a monthly basis is heart breaking, especially when there is no electricity supply. Every month, the Apapa ports get bills that range between N20m and N30m while electricity bills for the Tin Can Port ranges from N2.5m to N10m monthly.”
While electricity supply to Apapa is said to extend from three to four hours every other day, the supply to the Tin Can is between one to three hours every day. Kirikiri, which hosts fishing terminals, is said to be entirely dependent on the operators for electricity supply.
“It is unfortunate that the ports is paying these kind of bills, most especially when electricity supply more often than not is privately generated. At least, we should be getting the service we pay for.
“We almost run on diesel 24 hours every day. Some containers are refrigerated containers that must be supplied power at all hours. Those containers have perishable items, which go bad when there is no electricity. There are also drugs, which are imported that must be preserved at a certain temperature until they are cleared,” the source said.
The source added that electricity was also needed to monitor the movement of vessels along the channels and to protect cargoes at the port from theft and vandalisation.
The NPA General Manager, Western Ports, Mr. Micheal Ajayi, when contacted, described the ports as a security zone, which must be well lit at all hours.
He said, “The NPA never ever owes; if there is a delay in payment, it is because the documents are being processed. There are processes to be followed to get the money from the Treasury Single Account.
“However, we would like to be given special treatment just like the airports and to be recognised as a security zone as is obtainable in all parts of the world. We cannot afford to be in darkness even for a minute.”
The spokesperson for the Eko Distribution Company, Mr. Godwin Idemudia, could not be reached as at the time of this report. His telephones lines were said to be switched off. He also did not respond to an email sent to his telephone.