By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, has described Nigerian ports as the most expensive in the West African sub-region occasioned by duplicity of functions by operators in the ports.
The minister of state, who was speaking when members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) paid her a courtesy call in Abuja, Tuesday, said that the high cost of operation has made it difficult for Nigeria to compete with other neighbouring countries.
According to her, Nigeria is supposed to be the biggest and cheapest player but unfortunately, “we are not. But I assure you that changes will be witnessed as we will soon be efficient and effective”.
The minister, in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja Tuesday by the ministry’s Director of Press, Mr. Eric Ejiekwe, stated that the issue of Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for empty containers also contributes to the gridlock in Apapa, adding that the problem is not a hidden one.
According to Saraki, “Everyone knows that and I assure you that we will soon unveil plans which will surely bring about positive changes.”
She further lauded the association for its commitment in bringing about changes in port operations and urged the members to always avail themselves for robust discussion as that is the only way the ministry could know whether the policies set by government are working or not.
Earlier, the National President of ANLCA, Iju Nwabunike, said their visit became necessary to keep the minster of state informed about the happenings in the area she superintends so as to guide her in decision making in the discharge of her duties.
Nwabunike further commended the ministry for the revival and growth of the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and stated that his association is in support of collection of Practitioners’ Operating Fees (POF), as it will bring about improvement in the transport chain and the training of their members as professionals.
Enumerating their challenges which are many, the ANLCA’s national president pleaded with the minister of state to ensure the urgent repairs of the port access roads and also ensure automation of transactions at the terminals to minimize human contacts, facilitate trade and guarantee ease of doing business.