The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman has stated that the federal government ongoing investment in port infrastructure will boost maritime sector’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic products (GDP).
She added that port infrastructure being built by the government and assets acquired under her leadership are key in improving efficiency at the port as Nigeria look towards improving maritime sector contribution to GDP.
She made this known during the inauguration of two tugboats, MT Musawa and MT Ikoro-Ekiti, acquired by the authority.
According to her, “To achieve our objectives, we need to have tugboats that have capacity for larger and bigger container vessels to come and efficiently berth in our port.”
She added that for the effective execution of its functions in all port locations, the authority was committed to continuous upgrade of facilities and equipment that will enhance service delivery.
“This commitment is to ensure that all the six functioning seaports are prepared for optimal performance at all times. This determination accounts for the purchase of these new tugboats, MT Musawa & MT Ikoro-Ekiti joining our other fleet of four namely: MT Daura, MT Ubima, MT Uromi and MT Majiya, which were commissioned in 2017,” she added.
In his speech, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that if anyone was in doubt as to the importance of the maritime sector to Nigerian and global economy, the event of the past three months where ports across the world have remained open in spite of the comprehensive lockdown of virtually other sectors should instruct on why priority attention has to be given to the sector.
“Given government’s determination to develop other sectors of the national economy and reduce reliance on the oil and gas sector, we have identified the pivotal role that the maritime sector occupies in the actualisation of the fundamental objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of this administration.
“We understand that not less than 85 percent of the country’s external trade passes through the seaports and are committed to repositioning the ports for greater efficiency.
“The much talked about transition from a mono-product into a diversified economy is heavily dependent on how robust we can make our maritime space and we are committed to achieving this.
“As you are aware, work is ongoing on President’s directive that all seaport locations must be linked up to the standard gauge rail line even as we are determined to link up the thirty- six (36) state capitals with the Federal Capital, Abuja with standard gauge rail services.
“I particularly want to commend the NPA for delivering on this project nine month ahead of schedule. This is the kind of efficiency that the administration wants to entrench in the polity and I am happy that we are making progress,” he said.
According to him, in line with the determination of the federal government to expand the country’s economic base, an efficient and effective port system is needed where all stakeholders are confident about receiving prompt and seamless attention, where vessels berth efficiently and cargo are evacuated smoothly.
“This is more so when we consider the size of Nigeria’s economy, its population and the prime position that it holds on the African continent as well as the global maritime space.
“It is therefore our determination to ensure the continuous improvement of the state of equipment at the ports, ensuring the effective management of channel depths as well as the constant upgrading of port infrastructure. “Towage service has been an integral part of the determinants of the efficiency of any port as it ensures expeditious passage of vessels in channels and safety in berthing them.
“Tugboats are essential for effective and seamless berthing of vessels as well as containing any outbreak of fire in or during operations. As a result, the purchase and commissioning of two Damen’s 2810 model tugboats christened MT Musawa and MT Ikoro-Ekiti, respectively, are giant strides in buoying the capacity of the NPA, for more effectiveness,” he said.