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Lack of maritime transport policy responsible for poor infrastructure, stunted growth – FG

Onitsha River Port to earn N23bn in 30 years – Saraki

The Federal Government has said that lack of policy document to guide maritime business in Nigeria has been responsible for poor transport infrastructure, low involvement of indigenous vessels in the nation’s shipping business as well as stunted maritime sector growth.

Speaking in Lagos on Thursday during the Stakeholders’ Validation Forum on the Draft National Maritime Transport Policy, Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation, said lack of policy document has constrained the contribution of the nation’s shipping sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Saraki, who was represented by Magdalene Ajani, permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, said while numerous opportunities to enhance the contribution made by the maritime environment to sustainable development in the country abounds, lack of National Maritime Transport Policy makes it difficult to harness those opportunities.

Saraki said that lack of all-encompassing policy at the national level to holistically address the challenges in the maritime sector necessitated the move to put together, the Draft National Maritime Transport policy.

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While acknowledged the existence of a number of strategies and associated policies relevant to the governance of the nation’s maritime environment, she pointed out the need to develop an all-encompassing transport policy that will stand the test of time and foster a robust maritime industry.

“We are confident that the maritime experts who assembled here today will come up with an implementable policy document for achieving 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, and among others,” she said.

The expected outcome, she said, is a modern, efficient and sustainable maritime and logistic transportation system devoid of congestion, environmental pollution, insecurity, low customer service levels and other administrative/logistic inadequacies.

On expectations from the policy, Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), who disclosed that there, is believe that National Transport Policy would enhance transparency and accountability in the entire maritime industry.

She said that industry players should expect clear guidelines from the policy as well as clear standard operating procedures (SOP) across board for the several aspects of port operations.

“The policy is long overdue because we have been looking forward to a policy that would guide our operations and also leapfrog to an area of legislation that would strengthen and ensure improved maritime domain in Nigeria. NPA as the custodian of the port would play a huge role in this regard and we look forward to having accountability within our structure,” she added.

Earlier, Paul Adalikwu, chairman, National Maritime Transport Policy Committee, 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 for generations to come.

“It is a known fact that Nigerian 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,” he said.

According to him, the present situation has diminished the ability of key players to make substantive impact in the national and global economy.