Wednesday, April 24Inside Business Africa

Federal Govt Breaks INTELS’ Pilotage Monopoly, Engages New Firms

The federal government has broken the monopoly earlier enjoyed by Intels Nigeria Limited on Service Boat Operation Monitoring Agents in the pilotage district of Lagos, Warri, Bonny/Port Harcourt and Calabar.

In a document obtained, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), on Wednesday, approved the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to engage six new contractors who had been pre-qualified for the job.

It reports that the new companies approved for engagement by the BPP are ICA Logistics Limited (for Lagos Pilotage District); Pacific Silverline Limited (for Warri Pilotage District); Nextee Oil and Gas Trading Company (for Bonny/Port Harcourt Pilotage District) and Isasha Investments Limited (for Calabar Pilotage District).

With the BPP Certificate of No-Objection dated August 30, 2023, the new firms are now due to take over the Service Boat Operations Monitoring contract previously handled for years by INTELS.

The process of appointing new contractors to man the pilotage districts was shrouded in controversy making it to drag for over two years.

Analysis of accruals from the four districts showed that the federal government lost over $500 million in the last three years due to the inability to appoint substantive monitoring agents.

Despite multiple presidential directives by the Buhari administration to the Ministry of Transportation to conclude the procurement process in which Intels participated but was disqualified by the NPA, the process was not concluded before the end of the administration.

In December 2019, the NPA commenced the procurement process for the engagement of Service Boat Monitoring Agents in four pilotage districts. INTELS had participated in the process along with other companies but was disqualified for flouting some of the requirements.  Upon its disqualification, the company initiated a suit against NPA to stop the conclusion of the procurement process.

In January 2021, the then Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi secured Presidential approval for the restoration of all contracts between NPA and Intels currently suspended or purportedly terminated by NPA and withdrawal of all matters in Court with the aim of settling disputes administratively.

Subsequently President Buhari directed the Ministry of Transportation to conclude the ongoing procurement process within 60 days and directed the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice should ensure a quick determination of the cases in Court in view of their economic importance.

The president’s reversal of his initial approval to the Federal Ministry of Transport to proceed with the renewal of INTELS contract was informed by the recommendations of the then Attorney General of the Federation and the DG BPP, both of whom affirmed that the information relied upon by the President from the Ministry of Transportation was not factual, as the NPA did not cancel the contract for Service Boat Operations Monitoring Agent, but that the contract ran its full course and elapsed thus creating the need for new engagement.

The Presidential directive to conclude the procurement process was further reaffirmed in another letter signed by Buhari’s Chief of Staff Ref. No.: SH/COS/23/A/235 dated June 14th, 2022, wherein the President directed the Ministries to treat the issue with dispatch to avert further revenue loss to government.

But instead of the ministry to implement the presidential directive, it was gathered that the erstwhile Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, initiated moves in December 2022 to void the procurement process and restore the expired Contract to Intels with them going through any valid procurement process. The minister, among other things, claimed that the renewal will enable NPA to repay the debt owed to Messrs DEEP Offshore Services Nigeria limited (DOSNL), the parent company of Intels.

With the latest step, the Tinubu administration has ended the stalemate by giving effect to the presidential directives given by President Buhari.

In a letter dated August 18, 2023 addressed to the Director-General of the BPP, Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, requested the bureau to issue the No-Objection Certificate to allow for closing out on the lingering procurement process.

The Ministry of Maritime and Blue Economy is now expected to present the approvals to the Federal Executive Council for ratification.

However, when contacted, Intels refused to comment saying the case is currently before a court of competent jurisdiction, hence, it will be subjudice to comment on the issue.

Also, the Special Adviser, media to the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Ismail Omipidan, who promised to get back to our Correspondent is yet to do that as at the time of filing this report.


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