Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar has called on African countries, particularly those in the West Africa and Central Africa sub-regions, to collaborate and confront sea piracy and armed robbery in their waters.
He hinged his call for collaboration among African countries on the fact that the menace of piracy and armed robbery, on both the blue and muddy waters, has made shipments to the region more expensive.
Umar stated this in Lagos while declaring open the 35th council meeting and 11thRound Table of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA).
The Minister, represented at the occasion by the Director of Maritime Services (DMS) in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Alhaji Suleiman Nagogo, said the problem of pollution and environmental degradation requires coordination “as pollution in Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria or any other country have very serious impact on others”.
Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Omar Suleiman, had earlier in his welcome address at the occasion, which attracted participants from many countries, lauded the council for granting Nigeria the chance to host the meeting.
He urged members of the council to share ideas and compare notes about ways of improving the sub regional share of the global maritime business through collaboration.
“Let us draw lessons from the challenges of global economic recession and the bitter experiences of certain developed economies and take initiatives that will position the sub-region as the alternative investment haven, while insulating it from its dangerous consequences”, he added.
He stated that following the impressive performance of the private operators in the nation’s maritime sector occasioned by the 2006 ports reforms, the Federal Government has embarked on capital and maintenance dredging to deepen and expand the channel.
He noted the government has also embarked on dredging of the River Niger for inland water transportation, wreck removal, rehabilitation of the moles in the Lagos Area, and improved maritime security and provision of comfort for shipping.
He also said government has started what he called “massive investments” in rail rehabilitation across the country which is still ongoing.“In Nigeria, the realisation that the private sector remains the engine for growth and the need for government to limit its roles to policy and the creation of an enabling environment, led to the reform of our ports and the adoption of the landlord model of port management in 2005.
“This has led to consistent improvement in cargo throughput from 46,150,518 metric tonnes in 2006 to 82 million metric tonnes in 2011”, he said. According to him, container traffic has similarly witnessed 12-15 per cent annual growth.
He said because government is also keen to expand port capacity in line with the private sector taking the lead, private sector initiative was encouraged to develop the Onne FLT and FOT, which support oil and gas sector.