Budget must turn around seaports’ infrastructure, operators insist
Maritime operators are anxiously waiting for the passage of the 2018 budget (N8.612 trillion) recently presented by President Mohammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, to bring respite to the ageing and dilapidated seaports infrastructure across the country.
The operators, who expressed optimism that a large chunk of the budget went to the Ministry of Works and Housing headed by Raji Fashola (N555.88 billion), as well as the Ministry of Transport headed by Rotimi Amaechi (N263.10 billion), said much is expected from the duo to rescue the collapsed roads linking the seaports, particularly in Lagos.
President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forward (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, said: “The major area we want the budget to concentrate is infrastructure. The current state of infrastructure is not enough to propel the ports. We have to look at the rail infrastructure, roads and waterways because these are the three components of Inland transport system that sustain the ports.
“The ports operations have to deal with cargoes coming into the country, and we need to move them to the hinterland. You will discover that the inland transport system is not functional. There have been over concentration on the road infrastructure to the extent that if you look at Lagos ports, the roads are almost getting out of use, because presently you cannot access the ports, and evacuating cargoes from the ports has been a major problem.
“Government needs to go back to the drawing board right now to look at how to arrest the situation. The next alternative now is to make sure that the Bakkasi deep seaport and others are developed, so that we can turn this existing port to industrial port. The ones in the Eastern part now are underutilised and the infrastructure there is decaying because they are not put to use. So, government needs to expand and provide even infrastructure to the entire ports in the country.
A renowned terminal operator and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Ecomarine Terminals Limited, Balogun Moruf Adedayo, said the budget should focus on dredging of the Calabar channel, rail link and road access to seaports.
Adedayo: “The first area I will talk about is Calabar Channel dredging, which will go a long way to relief the Lagos ports of the current challenges and aid cargo movement to the North, and Eastern part of the country as well as the landlocked countries of Chad, Niger, and Malabo,”
He lauded the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for its renewed efforts on dredging the ports, adding that the budget should focus on the project and pursue it to a logical end.
Adedayo said the state of roads in Cross Rivers needs urgent attention, especially the Ikom bridge in Calabar, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos, Calabar-Ikot Ekpene road should get urgent attention because they allow for easy evacuation of goods from the seaports.
The Ecomarine boss said the rail projects should also be extended to the Eastern ports in other to meet the multimodal objective of the Federal Government.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was optimistic that the N263.10 billion allocated to the Ministry of Transportation in the 2018 budget would sail through at the National Assembly without any reduction, said his ministry had been facing budget reductions in recent past.
He said the fund, when approved would aided the ministry to vigorously pursue its vision of intermodal transport and revive the maritime sector, among others.
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