By Adebayo Dawodu.
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent approval of a policy review in the nation’s oil and gas logistics services sector, Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ) has applauded the bold step taken by Federal Government to create a level-playing ground in the industry.
SIIFZ, one of Nigeria’s free zones operators, described the policy review as a catalyst designed to boost operations, eliminate the entrenched monopoly and remove bottlenecks that had inhibited development over the years.
According to the Chairman of Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ), Alhaji Abdulahi Yusufu, the FG deserves commendation for ensuring that a practical approach and well informed decision was taken to address the deep-rooted problems affecting the growth and development of the oil and gas logistic services.
He said: “Free zones operators, investors both local and foreign, terminal port operators will henceforth experience relief while the enormous economic potentials of the sector will positively impact on the economy because of the policy review. The policy guarantees importers ‘the right to choose terminals or ports of their choice for the discharge of their cargo.’ This hitherto was impossible due to the monopolistic advantage enjoyed by Intels.”
The SIIFZ Chairman recalled that free zones stakeholders and ports terminal operators earlier this year had raised alarm against the proposed Bill to amend the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority (OGEFZA) which if passed could have entrenched Intels’ monopoly in the sector.
The policy review note that: “His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has conveyed approval on 21st April, 2017 to the Honourable Minister of Transportation on the final position in the following terms:
“FGN remains guided by the general global practice in the designation of Terminal/Ports operations into three broad categorisations of bulk cargo, container cargo and multipurpose cargo. Accordingly, the FGN rejects the categorisation of oil and gas multi-purpose cargo terminal, as this is alien to the relevant concession agreements and inconsistent with global shipping practices…
“FGN reaffirms past presidential directives that all importers are free to choose any terminal or port for the discharge of their cargoes, subject to the presence of all requisite regulatory agencies at such ports as required by extant regulations and in line with its policy of promoting competition and value for money. Consequently, any policy that designates certain ports by cargo type is cancelled.”
The SIIFZ therefore expressed appreciation to the FG, its commitment to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), build investors’ confidence and establish the ease-of-doing business in Nigeria through policy review. It noted that the stakeholders are obliged to collaborate with the new leadership of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) in order to promote the sector.
SIIFZ is situated at Tin Can Island Port, Apapa and has immediate access to the open sea. It was established in January 2005 when Presidential Approval was given on January 28th 2005 for a Free Trade Zone and Port Development. SIIFZ operates under the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Decree 1992 Decree No. 63 as recorded in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 67 Vol. 79 dated 21st December 1992.
SIIFZ and its management company SIMCO FZC were licensed by NEPZA on April 4th 2005. SIIFZ became operational with effect from July 4th 2005.