By Eromosele Abiodun
The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, has stated that unworthiness of indigenous vessels, insecurity, collapsed and inadequate infrastructure occasioned by lack of policy document are challenges that have stunted the growth of the maritime sector.
She stated this while speaking at a stakeholders’ validation forum on the draft National Maritime Transport Policy in Lagos yesterday.
Saraki said the challenges have constrained the contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mrs. Madgalene Ajani, she said while numerous opportunities to enhance the contributions made by the maritime environment to sustainable development in the country abound, lack of National Maritime Transport Policy makes it difficult to harness.
According to Saraki, “It is instructive to note that the performance of the sector is further constrained by the challenges posed by insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, bureaucracy, weak laws, corrupt practices, inadequate capital for investment and maintenance of ships; poor incentives for investors, lack of indigenous carrier vessels, sea unworthiness of indigenous vessels where they are available, poor integrated water transport system.”
The minister, who lamented lack of all-encompassing policy at the national level to holistically address the challenges in the maritime sector, said such reason necessitated the National Maritime Transport policy.
She said: “Acknowledging the existence of a number of strategies and associated policies relevant to the governance of the country’s maritime environment, there is no all-encompassing policy at the national level to holistically address the aforementioned challenges in the maritime sector.
“This informed the need for the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to embark on developing an all-encompassing and all-inclusive National Maritime Transport Policy that will stand the test of time and foster a robust maritime industry that will guarantee sustainable socioeconomic development of the country.
“I am also confident that the maritime experts who assembled here today will once again demonstrate the patriotism they are known for by coming up with an implementable policy document to achieve the maritime sector of our dreams which entails massive construction of new terminals in existing ports, inland water ports, link roads/rail lines, inland dry ports/container depots/freights, among others. The expected outcome is a modern, efficient and sustainable maritime and logistic transportation system devoid of congestions, environmental pollution, insecurity, low customer service levels and other administrative/logistic inadequacies.”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman, National Maritime Transport Policy, Dr. Paul Adalikwu, said: “It is impossible to administer the maritime sector successfully without a policy document that contains genuine, reliable and updated data that can serve the times and seasons that we are in and even generations to come.
“It is a known fact that the maritime sub-sector does not have a robust, holistic policy document that contains all the variables with adequate representation of all relevant stakeholders, hence, the maritime industry lacked the most essential facility needed for acceptable planning, projections, strategising and implementation.”