Govt mandates maritime stakeholders to raise efficiency, revenue, projects
Issues ultimatum to freight forwarders on registration
THE Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has urged stakeholders in the maritime sector to come up with suggestions on how to lift the industry in terms of efficiency and revenue generation.
Speaking at an interactive session with stakeholders in Lagos, Amaechi said the federal government has resolved to reform the economy, noting that the maritime sector has a critical role to play.
Meanwhile, the minister has handed down a 14-day ultimatum within which all freight forwarders operating in the sector must register with Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
According to Amaechi, the ministry of transport and the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has resolved to meet to discuss the issue.Speaking at a forum in Lagos, the minister said he might instruct CRFFN to commence fresh registration of practitioners.
He said: “Let me talk to the customs practitioners. There is a law that you people are breaking and that law has to do with an agency in my ministry”.
He added: “I have met with the Comptroller General of Customs and we are starting a fresh registration of all customs agents and the requirement will be to go and register with CRFFN before you can became a customs agent”
“Myself and the CGC have agreed to meet and all I will tell him is to go and announce to customs agents to go and start fresh registration because they must comply to the law”, he added.
Speaking at a separate forum, the minister informed stakeholders that the present administration is in for a total reform of the economy, noting that he had promised President Muhammadu Buhari that the maritime sector will contribute substantially to the Nigerian Economy.
Issues that dominated the session include the implementation of the concession agreement, midstream discharge operations, private jetties matters and handling of oil and gas cargoes.
A statement issued by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) explained that the forum provided opportunities for stakeholders to bare their minds on issues that can hinder or enhance efficient ports operations.
The Minister stressed the need for all private jetties owners and operators to obey the law. On the issues of pilotage, the Minister assured the forum that Government will review the entire process, including the revenue being generated.
He directed all concessionaires who claimed their rights are being breached by some agencies to come up with document to support such claims.
The Minister further asserted that agreements must be respected because, according to him, it is the tonic for investment.On the concession of the Port Terminal, the Minister observed that the idea is to create competition on a level playing ground to stimulate efficiency and competitive price.
The Managing Director of NPA, Habib Abdullahi also used the opportunity to explain that the port has recorded improvement despite various challenges.
On the dredging of the Escravors channels in Delta Ports, the Abdullahi explained that the process would soon take off, adding that consultancy services have been commissioned. Former General Manager, Eastern Ports, Obumnene Onuenyenwa spoke on trade facilitation and wealth creation in the maritime industry.
He emphasised the need for the resuscitation and expansion of rail lines to areas where mineral resources are available so that they can be moved and processed for exports.
In a related development, Abdullahi has assured the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) of NPA’s continuous support and cooperation in the discharge of its duties.
NPA’s Managing Director gave the assurance while receiving a delegation of the commission led by its Director General, Aminu Diko.He directed that the monitoring and compliance division should henceforth submit a copy of its quarterly reports to the ICRC.
The Managing Director remarked that it is commendable that ICRC is alive to its responsibility, which he said would give it the opportunity to get first-hand information on the challenges of the concession programme and listen to observations from concessionaires.
A statement issued by NPA’s General Manager (Public Affairs), Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu quoted Abdullahi as saying, public private partnership department will be established to take care of investors’ interest in the nation’s seaports.
While disclosing that some concession agreements, which have expired, have been extended because of investments by such concessionaires, he promised to facilitate the flow of information between the ICRC and concessionaires.
Meanwhile, NPA has reassured the federal government that the agency is positioned to turn around the fortunes and gains of the economy despite challenges in the oil and gas sector.
The Managing Director who was represented at a ceremony in Lagos by Ebubuogu described ports efficiency as a catalyst for economic growth.
He said: “It is envisaged that with the recovery of global economy and the stimulation of Nigerian industries and consequent exports, the Nigerian ports will be poised to catalyse the economic growth of Nigeria, and be second to none in foreign exchange contribution to the Federal Government’s coffers”.
He said: “The desire was to build a robust and responsive economy that will have the private sector as its back bone.”He recalled that at inception, Nigerian seaports were owned, operated and regulated by the NPA before the concession in accordance with its enabling Act.