The International Maritime Organisation, (IMO), has called on the Nigerian Government to urgently put in place a maritime transport policy to drive the countryâ€™s inland waterway transportation and economic development.
The Secretary General of the organisation, Mr. Kitack gave the advice at the opening of the national workshop on Maritime Transport Policy (MTP) organised by NIMASA in collaboration with IMO.
The IMO, boss who was represented at the event by the IMO Head, Africa Section, Technical Cooperation Division, Mr. William Azuh, stated that promotion and development of national policies to guide planning, decision making and relevant legislative actions is an important governance practice of many governments, including Nigeria.
According to him, â€œWe will support NIMASA in developing a sustainable maritime transport system reflecting and balancing the interests of stakeholders with a carefully devised and executed maritime transport policy, which is crucial in serving as a fundamental guidance document to provide a long-term sustainable vision for the future of the Nigerian maritime sector, â€ Lim said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated that Nigeria is in dire need of an MTP, which will complement the existing National Transport Policy and advance the countryâ€™s global maritime trade.
Peterside noted that the programme is a new phase in the nationâ€™s journey towards effectively maximising the maritime opportunities that abound the sector, especially in line with the Agencyâ€™s mandate of promoting and facilitating maritime trade.
According to Peterside, â€œYou will agree with me that 60 per cent of the cargo headed to West Africa will likely end up in Nigeria, we have not only a long coast but also one of the longest inland waterways; in addition of six active port complexes. All these, coupled with our population, make us the biggest economy in Africa. Therefore, we need a sustainable maritime policy that would guide the coordination of maritime activities as we strive to advance Nigeriaâ€™s Global maritime Goal.â€
Peterside also said that as part of the revolution going on in the transport sector, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is advancing the intermodal transport system by linking all the port complexes to the hinterland via the railway to further facilitate ease of doing business.
The NIMASA boss, however, opined that NIMASA cannot achieve this goal alone, hence the need to seek support of the IMO and other relevant stakeholders in order to come up with a model to develop a maritime transport policy that will serve Nigeriaâ€™s interest and stand the test of time.
â€œA workable maritime transport policy of any nation should be stakeholders driven. Therefore all associated stakeholders and professionals in the sector are needed to participate in the articulation and formulation of this policy, Peterside said.
In readiness to support the policy were the Chairmen, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, who was represented by the Committee Deputy, Senator Ahmed Ogembe and his Federal House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Umar Bago, represented by Hon. Solomon Adaelu unequivocally assured of the National Assemblyâ€™s support to see to the formulation of the policy.
Other notable stakeholders at the workshop included the Chief of Naval staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas , represented by Rear Admiral Oshinowo, the Nigeria Custom Service, Nigeria Shippers Council, NPA, NIWA, SOAN amongst other stakeholders.