Expert says only functional port plan will address challenges in Nigeria’s maritime industry

Maritime Lawyer, Osuala Nwagbara

A maritime lawyer, Mr Osuala Nwagbara, on Monday said that only a functional port plan could address the challenges bedeviling the nation’s maritime sector.

 Nwagbara, who is also the Secretary, Planning Committee of  the Nigeria Maritime Expo(NIMAREX) 2015, made the assertion in an interview in Lagos.

He said the incoming administration should ensure a repositioning of the maritime sector by considering a workable policy framework that could help to articulate the principles and objectives that are being sought.

He said the perennial gridlock in Apapa was a great challenge to trade development, which could be addressed with a purposely-designed port master plan.

 “What I think that the incoming administration should do with a view to repositioning the maritime industry is to look at the policy framework for the maritime industry in Nigeria.

“As it stands today, I can tell you authoritatively that Nigeria does not have a maritime policy.

“Normally, it is the policy that provides the framework within which the maritime system thrives. 

“Look at the laws in developed countries; the laws begin by articulating the principles and the objectives that are sought to be attained in the law that seeks to regulate an aspect of the maritime industry in view. 

“It goes on to pronounce the policy of government to put in place rules, regulations to attain those policies; all of these will form part of that law and you have provisions within that law to attain those objectives.

“The issue on ground today; the traffic gridlock we have in Apapa, we don’t have a master plan for development of ports in Nigeria, therefore, we have made every waterfront a port without considering the implications for other developments within these areas that we have converted into ports overnight.”

He said that the definition of port by the NIMASA Act for instance, virtually made every tank farm a port since the Act defines a port as any place where a ship could berth and discharge its cargo.

Nwagbara, however, said that a holistic port master plan would consider the effect of a port location on the environment, as well as consider other challenging issues.