Eromosele Abiodun and Mohammed Habib
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has stated that the federal government is putting plans in place to develop inland water transportation so as to boost coastal trade.
He made this known in his key note address at the World Maritime Day Celebration in Lagos, where he called on shipping practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to invest in the sector.
Amaechi added that Nigeria’s coastline of about 853km offers opportunity for high economic activities for cargo and passenger transport as well as fishing activities.
He said water transportation requires increased involvement of the private sector because it is the most environmental friendly as well as the most cost effective mode of transportation.
Speaking on recent developments in the maritime sector, he said the sector is faced with myriad of challenges bordering on, non-competitiveness, low level of investment, absence of requisite funding, low implementation and enforcement of existing laws in the sector and high charges.
These, he stated, have placed Nigeria in a disadvantaged position compared with ports of neighbouring countries within the West and Central African sub-region.
According to him, “As part of the comprehensive action to address these challenges and ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness of the shipping industry, a number of measures are being put in place, including the privatisation of the nation’s ports, while the various regulatory agencies are being repositioned for effective service delivery.
Government will vigorously pursue the expansion of the nation’s port system through the development of Deep Sea Ports to be driven by the private sector. A case in point is the recent Federal Executive Council approval for the development of a Deep Sea Port in Lekki by private investors to complement those of Ibaka and Badagry, which are ongoing.”
Nigeria, Amaechi added, has also submitted itself International Maritime Organisation (IMO) voluntary audit to ensure transparency and accountability in the sector.
The minister also stated that government is not unmindful of the unwholesome practices by some foreign shipping companies and their local collaborators operating within the sub-region, who often impose additional surcharges on shippers without prior consultation with the relevant government agencies.
“The need to mobilise resources to adequately equip indigenous service providers to provide services at competitive prices has been identified and would be vigorously pursued. Additionally, since shipping services is derived demand in nature, it follows therefore that there will be no shipping without cargo, “he said.