Transport policy vital for Nigeria’s shipping devt., says maritime expert
The President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt. Saib Olopoenia, says the absence of a transport policy was the bane of the nation’s shipping industry.
In an interview in Lagos, Olopoenia said that Nigeria must establish a transport policy to attain a focused direction in shipping development.
He said that a transport policy would define roles and responsibilities for the development and growth of a national shipping industry.
“One of the things is that there must be a national shipping or transport policy.
“At the moment people are just coming with ideas here and there. There should be a national shipping or transport policy.
“It is from there that government will now come out and say this is the way we want to go about the shipping industry, and there will be stages.
“Different sectors will now be given mandate to do; NIMASA will be told this is what you are supposed to be doing, NPA, Shippers’ Council, even though all those parastatals have their mandates.
“But there should be an overall shipping policy for the country, and the role of the private industry as well should be very clear, this is how we want to go about shipping,” he said.
The master mariner said that with respect to ship-building, Nigeria did not have requisite facilities for now, but that she could begin by building small crafts and tug boats for coastal operations.
“At the moment we have ship repair facilities. We don’t have a steel industry in this country at the moment.
“So, if we are going to start building ships, we must have the necessary infrastructure in place to build ships.
“And of course in the world, not all countries build ship, there are some countries that are noted for ship-building.
“What we need is to have a very strong viral ship repair industry in Nigeria.
“We can start building small crafts like the coastal vessels, but when it comes to foreign-going vessels, I don’t think at the moment we have the capacity to do it.
“Because we don’t have a steel industry, our power industry in Nigeria is so low, so how are you going to power those industries?
“We can still build those small, small vessels that operate in the coastal waters, like tug boats, barges, small, small crafts, they can be built in Nigeria,” he said.
It could be recalled that the President of the Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (IOTA), Prof. Innocent Ogwude, had earlier said that the nation’s transport policy was not encapsulated in one document.
According to him, a nation’s transport policy is discernible in many ways, including what such a nation has done or failed to do.
“There are two ways of discerning a nation’s transport policy; it could be documented, it could also not be documented but acted, as long as there are activities in the transport sector, these activities represent the nation’s transport policy,” he said.