Heads of maritime agencies have expressed shock at the level of destruction that took place at the corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos when hoodlums hijacked a nationwide peaceful protest by youths last month.
They voiced their concerns during a solidarity visit to the site of the incident.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, condemned the assault, saying the level of destruction is monumental and constitutes a huge loss to the maritime community as a whole.
Moghalu said: “Seeing the level of destruction here first hand, we feel very sad about the turn of events. We are all in solidarity with the NPA management. This is a great loss to the entire country and we need to educate ourselves more that violence is not the best way to go about things.”
He said it was a surprise to them that NPA was singled out for attack despite its documented corporate social responsibility(CSR) and community relations initiatives, many of which were tailored to youth development.
In a similar vein, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, regretted that the maritime industry was made to face this challenge despite still battling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said port facilities were critical national assets that should be collectively protected.
“Port facilities are invaluable economic assets and they are critical to national development. It behoves us all as citizens to be custodians of this monumental infrastructure built for our collective good, ”he added.
While commending Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Balla-Usman, for providing leadership at this trying time for the agency, Jamoh said the Nigerian economy would have suffered considerably if the destruction had led to suspension of port operations.
He said: “This is a sad event, especially, for our industry that is still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Port operations are central to the activities of all the maritime agencies. We are just lucky that this did not stop shipping operations because this would have negatively impacted or crippled the Nigerian economy.”
In her response, Bala-Usman called the attack an assault on the maritime industry, saying the level of destruction is incomprehensible.