Senate, Transport Ministry push for maritime alternative

R-L: Member Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Kabir Gaya, Director-General,Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside , and the Chairman, Ship owners Forum, Barrister (Mrs.) Margaret Orakwusi at a maritime stakeholders assembly tagged a Lunch with the Senate held in Lagos.
The Senate Committee on Marine Transport and the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) have called on stakeholders to join the Government in its recent efforts to pay more attention to the development of the maritime sector as it has enormous resources that can boost the economy of Nigeria.

This assertion was made on Thursday in Lagos at a one day maritime stakeholders’ assembly organised by the committee in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmed Sani Rufai, stated, “One of the reasons we are here is to bring the parliament to the stakeholders and discuss the progress, challenges and the way forward for the realisation of a robust maritime sector in Nigeria. We will, therefore, depend on feedbacks from the stakeholders, which will help in our legislative processes.”

Ahmed said the Senate was willing to partner with stakeholders in the sector through proper legislation to find ways of harnessing the opportunities that abound in the maritime sector for the country’s economic prosperity.

The committee chairman listed some maritime industry-related bills under consideration in the National Assembly, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (Act repeal and re-enactment) Bill 2016; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage Act) Bill, 2018; and Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Bill 2018.

 He said the committee will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every bill relevant to the growth of the maritime sector got the required attention and legislative backing within the shortest time possible.   

On his part, the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, noted that the Federal Government was committed to the growth of the maritime sector, but said this could only be achieved through proper legislation. 

Amaechi, who was represented by the Director, Maritime Services of the FMOT, Mr. Galadenchi, also pledged the commitment of the ministry to partnerships with the Senate and industry stakeholders to enable the Nigerian maritime sector fully realise the enormous opportunities within it.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who delivered a goodwill message at the occasion, commended the Senate Committee on Marine Transport for its doggedness and patriotism in ensuring that the sector took its rightful place in the comity of maritime nations through the legislative backings, among other efforts.

Dakuku reiterated the Agency’s commitment to the realisation of a robust maritime sector in the country through collaboration with the committee and other stakeholders. He called for synergy among sister agencies in the maritime sector, saying it is the only way to fully harness the opportunities in the sector.

“Collaboration is the only way our country will grow and the maritime sector must not be left out. Let me therefore state categorically that through synergy with relevant stakeholders, there will be massive boom in the maritime sector and, by extension, the entire economy” Dr. Dakuku said. 

He appealed to the Senate to ensure speedy passage of the anti-piracy bill to provide a legal backing for the prosecution of issues relating to piracy and other criminal activities on the country’s territorial ways.

Also speaking, former Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, said one of the ways to optimise the benefits of the maritime sector was to decentralise the ports and make them more attractive and competitive. He said this would help to boost investors’ confidence and decongest the traffic situation in the Lagos ports.

Chairman of the Ports Consultative Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin, welcomed the Federal Government’s attempt to provide a viable port access roads in Nigeria. Folarin said, “An efficient multimodal transport system is the only way to realise a viable maritime sector that can compete favourably with others in the world.”

Industry stakeholders at the event bemoaned the state of the access roads to the ports and called on the Senate Committee to assist in finding a lasting solution to the congestion on the roads.

Notable industry stakeholders, who attended the event included Chief Isaac Jolapamo, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, Princess Vicky Haastrup, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, and Mr. Bolaji Sunmola. 

They emphasised the need for the government to pay more attention to the maritime sector for the country’s economic prosperity.