Posted by Philip Nyam | 16 August 2019 | 477 times
The Federal Government has identified criminal activities including kidnapping, sea piracy, and armed robbery as some of the factors militating against the smooth and optimal operations of eastern ports in the country.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee to determine why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne, and Onitsha inland port complexes are not being put to maximum use.
Testifying before the committee yesterday, the permanent secretary lamented that kidnapping, armed robbery and sea piracy were forcing operators to stay away from these ports.
He said this was coupled with multiple taxes imposed even by states and local governments.
“Piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery are responsible for the non-utilisation of the ports,” he stated.
According to Zakari, “Lack of synergy and cooperation among government agencies operating at the ports is also affecting the smooth running of these ports. NIMASA, NPA, the Navy and freight forwarders are not working together.
“There is no cooperation and we are one government and I don’t see why there should be conflict among these agencies. We need legislative support and backing of the National Assembly.”
Corroborating the submission of the ministry, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, agreed insecurity was a major factor militating against the ports, but added that the Navy was working round the clock to arrest all criminal activities.
Represented by the Director of Training, Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, the CNS also lamented that the channels of the eastern ports were narrow and unmarked,
“Our channels are very narrow and largely unmarked. The surface of the underwater is very small,” he stated.
He said the problem of poor infrastructure and evacuation of good was also responsible for the optimal performance of the ports, adding that the roads liking the ports were in deplorable shape.
Similarly, the managing director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, also agreed that insecurity and poor infrastructure was being responsible for the problem. Represented by Prof. Idris Abubakar, the NPA boss said she has drawn the attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to deplorable state of the roads linking the ports.
Similarly, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) noted that the issue of insecurity was seriously weighing in on the operations of the concerned ports.
Represented by Capt. Sunday Umoren, the Director General of NIMASA, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, also noted that there was absolute need for all the agencies to work together in the interest of the nation.
Earlier, while declaring the hearing open, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said that both the Apapa and TinCan Island Ports Complexes in Lagos were “overwhelmed and attained breaking points.”
He charged the ad hoc committee to ‘redeliver’ a policy framework and make substantive proposals for legislative and executive action to drive the increased utilisation at these ports for the socio-economic benefit of Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Deputy House Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, lamented that the Nigerian maritime sector regrettably remains one of the great untapped economic reserves.
He stressed that “operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country will help to develop the economic potential of the communities where these ports are located and even farther afield.”
In his welcome address, chairman of the ad hoc committee, Yakub, said the committee is out to determine why some of the ports have been operating below capacity.
He said the committee was also interested in unravelling why the port situation has remained unpleasant despite the many efforts of government over the years at making the Nigerian ports virile.
Such efforts, he noted, were by way of building more port complexes, granting more concessions, including encouraging active involvement of the private sector in some aspects of operations in the maritime sector.
“What this means is that about five inland port complexes in Warri, Calabar, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Onne have all failed to provide alternative or even consummate services to aid decongestion of two Lagos Ports Complexes,” he regretted. (New Telegraph)
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