Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, monday said government is committed to reposition the maritime sector to meet global best practice and benchmarks.
The disclosure was made in a statement during a courtesy call by members of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), led by its President, Mr. Charles Uwadia in Abuja.
He expressed displeasure with the state of the Nigeria’s seaports and Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), adding that government would make concerted efforts to develop the sector both for its economic viability and job creation.
The minister said: “We are committed to moving the maritime sector forward. I don’t feel happy seeing the sea ports the way they are; I am not happy seeing NIMASA the way it is; I’m not happy with the problem of insecurity in our waterways and I believe working together we can resolve some of these challenges.”
He also expressed willingness to work with relevant experts in the industry to reposition the sector for greater prosperity.
“We are committed to moving the maritime sector forward. I don’t feel happy seeing the seaports the way they are; I am not happy seeing NIMASA the way it is; I’m not happy with the problem of insecurity in our waterways and I believe working together we can resolve some of these challenges,” the minister said.
In a remark, Uwadia, said the essence of the courtesy call is to draw the minister’s attention to some of the anomalies in the sector and to seek possible ways of partnership to correct the ills.
He also indicated that Nigeria’s maritime sector is about 50 years behind other maritime nations, adding that concerted efforts must be done for the sector to develop.
“We believe the present lapses in the maritime sector are lack of in-depth technical input into the maritime policies and their implementation in line with international best practices and realities,” Mr. Uwadia said.
According to him, the “decline in standard, quality and profitability of the ship of Nigerian flag can be traced to their poor technical standard occasioned by the owners’ reluctance to comply with national and international standard and regulations.
It is AMES opinion that there is need for a holistic review of Nigerian maritime human capacity development,” he explained
“We are willing to partner the ministry to move the industry forward. Which is why we came to invite the minister to the summit we are having on April 14, in Lagos where we will discuss all the problems facing the industry,” he said.
According to him, most of the vessels operating in Nigeria are not of international standards, adding, that foreigners come in with all sorts of rickety vessels.
Uwadia said: “In so many parts of the world, double haul vessels are the only vessels allowed to trade in their waters but we still have single hall vessels trading in our waters just because we don’t have the financial capability to upgrade our vessels. We shouldn’t compromise safety and compromising safety is not meeting up with international standards.”
According to him, the way forward to improving the sector must come through consistent training, while admitting that the maritime sector is 50 years behind other countries in terms of development.