ABUJA (Transport Ministry’ Report)- The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has once again reiterated that Government efforts are at advance stage to facilitate the establishment of a National Carrier that would be spear headed by the Private Sector. He noted that when established, it will address the current multiple challenges facing the Shipping industry and it will check capital flight, create more employment opportunities for our teeming youth as well as providing opportunity for Sea time training of graduate Cadets.
Amaechi stated this at the 2016 World Maritime Day Celebration in a keynote address he delivered on the theme: “Shipping, Indispensable to the world”, on Wednesday November 2, 2016 in Lagos.
The Minister said opportunities that abound in the Maritime sector which could lift the Economy to greater height have remained largely unexploited noting that the most Advance Economies of the World are those that have developed their maritime industries to a greater height and have greatest percentage of participation in international trade.
For Nigeria to achieve this lofty heights, the Minister called for her full participation in international trade which no doubt, has a direct relationship between the development of a nation’s maritime transport by removing all bottlenecks that are affecting the exploration of opportunities that abound in the nation’s maritime sector.
The Minister disclosed that to further address the challenges facing the maritime sector and ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness of the Shipping industry, the Federal Government is putting in place a number of measures which include the privatization of the nation’s Ports and repositioning various regulatory Agencies for effective service delivery as well as vigorously pursuing the expansion of the nation’s Ports system through the development of Deep Sea Ports which will be driven mainly by the Private Sector.
He further stated that an offshoot of this move was the recent Federal Executive Council approval for the construction of Deep Sea Ports in Lekki and Badagry which are ongoing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the Maritime Sector, Nigeria as a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has submitted herself to the IMO’s voluntary Audit.
Rotimi Amaechi said Nigeria quest for sustainable maritime development is not negotiable stating that to achieve this laudable objectives on time, the Federal Government was committed at exploring the Single Window Project and ensuring that the various operational processes of the maritime sector such as vessel reception, cargo handling and clearance among others become automated to reduce revenue leakages in the system. He noted that the Federal Government was also committed to providing enabling environment for increased private sector participation in the operations and provision of services in the maritime sector.
On security, the Minister hinted that Government’s attention is geared towards ensuring security in the Shipping industry hence the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is being repositioned to effectively partner the Nigeria Navy and all other relevant security Agencies with a view to addressing the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to the Minister, another area of endowment is in the area of coastal trade otherwise known as water transportation. It is most environmentally friendly and cost effective which requires increase involvement of the Private Sector so as to harness the attractive opportunity the sector offer. “Nigeria coastline of about 853km offers opportunity for high economic activities for cargo on Shipping practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to invest more in this area as Government is committed to providing enabling environment for the development of inland water transportation”, he said.
Captain Adamu Audu Biu, an expert in the Shipping industry delivered a paper titled “Growth and Development of Shipping Industry in Nigeria: Creating enabling environment”. In his paper he examined how shipping industry started in Nigeria, the current position and where it ought to be.
Among those who delivered goodwill messages were, the President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria, Engr. Greg Ogbuefun, Engr. Olu Akinsoji, Dr. Kevin Okonna, DG NIMASA, Dr. Peterside Dakuku, MD Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman Bala, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Sippers’ Council, Hassan Bello and the Acting Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Ante Ikpajok.