Experts canvass independent ministry for maritime sector

The Asst. General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Ibrahim Nasiru (left), the Chief Executive Officer, Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi, General Manager, Corporate & Strategic Communications, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Jatto Adams, the Editor in Chief, Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed and the AGM Corporate & Strategic Communications, Isah Suwaid at the two-day Data and Investigative Journalism Training organized by NPA in collaboration with Premium Times for Maritime Journalists in Lagos.<br />

Stakeholders in the maritime industry have advocated for a separate ministry to handle the affairs of the shipping sector, which they insist has suffered neglect over the years.

The Ministry of Transportation, which supervises it, insists the maritime sector contributes about 90 per cent of Nigeria’s income through seaborne trade, making it the second largest revenue generator after oil.

The stakeholders linked the underdevelopment of the sector to its lumping with other subsectors like aviation, railway and others under the Ministry of Transportation, thereby lacking the required attention.

The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Financial Journalism, Ray Echebiri, in his presentation titled: “Why the port matters and why journalists should pay attention,” decried the poor attention given to maritime by the Nigerian Government.

He noted that such neglect is costing the economy billions of dollars in revenue compared to its contemporaries across the world, saying: “Ports are vectors of prosperity. Ports aid wealth creation. Ports are agents of economic growth and development.”

The neglect, according to him, have dire consequences on the ports such that they are now inefficient and uncompetitive, adding that the ports infrastructure are fast deteriorating; access roads to the ports are dilapidated and have become a nightmare for importers and exporters; while the ports are not able to generate as much revenue as expected.

Echebiri, who spoke at a two-day training co-organized by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Premium Times, for maritime journalists in Lagos, therefore advocated far-sighted reforms and development agenda for Nigerian ports

He argued that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), recognised that the nation’s transport infrastructure stock including the ports, are inadequate for the size of the economy, and also these infrastructure lag behind their peers in terms of scale and quality, globally.

Noting that governments around the world in conjunction with the private sector are investing heavily in ports with a view to making them more efficient, he urged President Buhari to scale up the process of reviving the ailing ports system for improved efficiency.

The General Manager, Corporate & Strategic Communications, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Jato Adams, assured that the Authority is working hard to tackle the challenges headlong, and would ensure that they are friendly and competitive.

He noted that given their importance to the Nigerian economy, NPA would leave no stone unturned to make the ports efficient with improved service delivery.

“We are making progress on the ports access roads. The management of NPA has devised three strategic plans (short, medium, and long term plans), which include the construction of a trailer park, the introduction of the call-up system, the tracking system, and the rehabilitation of the road from the ports to Oworonshoki, through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. I believe that by the time we finish all these, we will have a befitting port system,” he said.

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