The League of Maritime Editors and Publishers has urged the new Minister of Transport, Muazu Jaji Sambo, to ensure that he uses the short possible time he has to address pending issues that will lead to the development of the maritime sector and the entire transport industry.
By Ovie Edomi
In a congratulatory message to the Minister the League said the Minister should address such industry issues as disbursement of Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), ports infrastructure decay as well as sustain the successes already recorded in the war against piracy in the country Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
The duo of Kingsley Anaroke and Francis Ugwoke, President and Secretary of the League of Editors and Publishers respectively, identified the National Transport Commission (NTC), ports automation, war against corruption in the ports, among others as industry issues that the Minister should pursue to a logical conclusion
Part of the letter to the Minister reads:
“We must say that we are indeed delighted about this considering your rich background in the transport industry, having worked at top level in the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and in other national assignments.
“Honourable Minister, although we are fully aware of the short stay you may have in the industry with the tenure of this administration coming to an end early next year, we however believe that you can do your best within the time limit.
“In view of this, we wish to call on you to address the following issues within the time you have in the industry:
“As you are aware, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) which value is put at $350m for the development of indigenous shipping has remained undisbursed for decades now. Industry stakeholders have continued to lament to no avail. Recently, the outgone Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, had indicated that every effort is being made for this fund to be disbursed. We urge you, Sir, to ensure that the fund is disbursed during your own tenure as it is for the development of the shipping sector. The disbursement of the fund is imperative because of the gap it will fill in indigenous shipping development.
War Against Piracy
“Nigeria currently is celebrating its victory for being able to win the war against piracy and armed robbery on her territorial waters and Gulf of Guinea in the past six months. Over the years, Nigeria and other West African countries have been under attack over the sordid security crisis in the GoG until last year. We wish to urge you to ensure that this victory is sustained to save Nigeria from the negative image abroad and surcharge from conference liners on freight rates for cargoes destined for the country.
“The National Transport Commission (NTC) which expected assent by the President failed about three years ago is back on the drawing board. We urge you to push this bill more seriously at the various levels where it is currently for it to sail through again and be accented by the President. The passage of the NTC bill will no doubt have positive impact on the entire transport industry.
Port Infrastructure Overhaul
“The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is currently proposing a general rehabilitation of ports infrastructure in Lagos and the Eastern ports. This is considering decay in facilities and the negative effect on shipping, particularly for vessels calling at our ports. We urge the Honourable Minister to give this project the much needed political will for the sake of having an efficient port operations in line with the role of the NPA as the landlord of the system.
War Against Corruption in Ports
“The federal government is currently working towards repositioning the nation’s ports to be in line with global ports devoid of fraudulent practices and inefficiency. This has led to the introduction of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), metamorphosing into the establishment of Port Task Force to achieve efficiency in ports operations and eliminate all forms of corrupt practices. We urge you to give this the much needed political will to make our ports like what obtains in other advanced ports.
“Current practices in the ports leave much to be desired. Most of the operations are physically carried out. This leads to delay. This is because the role of technology is not being played up. We urge the Honourable Minister to use the time left for this noble assignment to ensure that operations in Nigerian ports are fully automated in what will eliminate physical contact that has led most times to corruption.
In conclusion, the League Editors and Publishers noted “We want to observe that the needs of the industry cannot be exhausted, and we urge you to engage experts for necessary advice on the best you can do within the shortest time left.