Expert wants FG to appoint professionals to run maritime industry

A maritime practitioner, Ms Chinweoke Okpalaji, has urged the Federal Government to appoint professionals to manage the affairs of the maritime parastatals as the week which began on Sept. 28 ended.

Okpalaji, Head, Maritime Business in Hyprops Nigeria Ltd, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
She noted that government had shown remarkable interest in the maritime industry but that it should be driven by professionals.
Okpalaji said that only people with deep knowledge of the maritime industry would make the difference as it was done in the oil and gas industry.
She bemoaned the absence of representatives of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) at the just-concluded African Maritime Conference organised by African Ship Owners’ Association in Lagos.
Okpalaji explained that as the apex maritime agency, NIMASA should have had a prominent presence at the event.
She said that indigenous ship owners in the industry faced challenges while seeking for funds, especially with banks that demanded that they have to contracts in place to qualify for loans to acquire vessels.
During the week also, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria(MWUN) said that the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) paid N500 million for the dockworkers salaries.
President of the union, Mr Tony Nted, said the payment covered the bills so far treated by the NPA.
Recall that the MWUN had threatened to embark on industrial action if the dockworkers and tally clerks were not paid their six months’ salary arrears.
Also, in the week under review, the African Ship Owners Association decided to evolve a policy to drive the maritime industry and address maritime domain security.
The association’s President, Mr Temisan Omatseye, said the basic necessity was for Africa to increase its fleet through improved trade opportunities.
He said it was important for Africa to do cargo audit; to understand the enormous capital flight it was suffering, and push for indigenous operations to get their businesses back.
Omatseye said this was to ensure massive creation of jobs for African youths who had resorted to seeking better living standards in the Western world.
Also at the conference, the AU Coordinator for the 2050 AIM-Strategy Taskforce, Mr Samuel Kame-Domguia, urged Africans to be committed to the AUs agenda to drive and grow Africa’s maritime industry.
Kame-Domguia urged Africans to work toward achieving the objectives of the Cabotage, as practitioners looked forward to financial support from the African Development Bank (ADB).
During the week, dockworkers at the Five Star Logistics Terminal, Tin-Can Island Port, Lagos, suspended work following the death of one of them.
The late dockworker, Mr Pius Ifah, died at about 1 a.m. when heavy-duty pipes rolled off from the stacking points and killed him instantly.
The incident brought to two, casualties recorded in the same terminal in 11 days.
NAN reports that a dockworker, Mr Samson Oheha, died in an accident on Sept. 19.
The Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) earlier in the week gave a 21-day ultimatum to terminal operators to comply with safety rules or the union would go on picketing.
The union complained that some terminal operators had failed to comply with standard safety rules at the terminals.
In the same week, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said it was set to develop a cargo village within the proposed East–Gate Enugu Airport City Development project.
NAGAFF said the proposed Cargo Village would be situated within the East–Gate Enugu Airport City Development Project adjacent to Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The proposed NAGAFF Cargo Village would be fashioned after a similar one in Malaysia.
When completed, the proposed cargo village will help to simplify the process of cargo clearance and help to reduce congestion in Lagos ports.
In the week under review, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy agreed to collaborate to provide a safe and secured maritime environment.
The Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Mr Haruna Jauro stated this when he visited the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja.