The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is committed to concluding the 25-year Port Master Plan.
The Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, said this at a two-day retreat organised by the House Committee on Ports, Harbour and Waterways, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies.
According to her, this (Port Master Plan) is expected to provide us with a clear overview of the entire port system, which is vital for guided port development.
“The Nigerian Ports Authority fully grasps the fact that our business is international and, therefore, requires that we constantly keep abreast with global developments and cutting edge technology in shipping developments.
“Thus in building capacity of our work force, exposure to the international scene is vital," the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Usman as saying.
On passage of pending relevant bills (Ports and Harbours Bill, National Transport Commission Bill, etc), the managing director expressed delight that members of the House Committee agreed that there was an urgent need to pass the bills.
She said that the bills would replace the existing obsolete laws, which were not supportive of the current developmental goals.
“We are also excited about the efforts to reform and develop other related areas such as Inland waterways and ports, railway and road network, as these will enhance inter-modalism, which is very key to the success of the port sector, ’’ she said.
Usman said NPA was in the process of reviewing the various port concession agreements, some of which had expired.
“We are trying the best we can to improve our budget performance within the ambit of the Procurement Act.
“We are also engaged in various service improvement initiatives such as automation, which has reduced revenue leakages among others and provided us the platform to link to the National Single Window for trade facilitation by reducing impediments.
“This forum is coming at a most auspicious time, a time when the President Mohammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is exploring ways of diversifying and improving the Nigerian economy. I must say that this is a very welcome innovation.“This is the first time this kind of forum is being organised by the House Committee.
“I am particularly happy because it will foster exchange of ideas and collaboration and I hope it will become an annual event as the gains from it cannot be overemphasized,’’ Usman said.
In a message to the retreat, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, said that transportation under maritime had witnessed tremendous growth over the years.
Peterside, who was represented by Director, Cabotage Services in NIMASA, Alhaji Gambo Ahmed, said that the law was the basis of every society.
He said that shipping accounted for over 80 per cent of movement of goods around the world.
Peterside said that it was NIMASA’s responsibility to ensure compliance with international maritime conventions in all shipping operations.
He said that all government agencies were committed to turn things around positively with the interest of the Federal Government in order to have seamless operation.
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr boss Mustapha, who was represented by Alhaji Ibrahim Danladi, said that without a successful inland transport system of local shipping, international shipping would not have a huge growth.
Danladi said that 20 barges of goods would take 200 trucks off the Nigerian roads.
He said that there was need for proper understanding of the roles of NIWA to reduce cost of doing business.
“There was need to amend the NIWA Act to streamline the functions of authority.
“Before 2003, there was Maritime Authority law and NIWA Act which came before the Cabotage Act.
“There is need for the National Assembly to also look into the land issue between Lagos State and NIWA which have undergone court processes and right now, the case is before the Court of Appeal,“ Danladi said.
He said that there was constant need to have sufficient water level to tap all the water needs of transporting goods within the country.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, commended the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, for streamlining the maritime industry.
Bello said that both the Federal Government and the National Assembly were working toward resolving challenges affecting maritime industry to enable Nigerian ports be the preferred destination of cargo for importers in both West and Central Africa.
He described shipping as an international business, saying there was need for Nigerian ports to be more efficient to attract more cargo and reduce human contact to the barest minimum.
Bello called for continuous dialogue to find solutions all the bottlenecks affecting the cost of doing business at the ports.
Nigerian Shippers` Council had launched Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Port Service Support Portal to guide both government and other operator on goods of ports services.
To eliminate corruption and other sharp practices at the nation`s ports, the council had introduced the Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) to reduce human interaction and time of doing business.
The Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Mr Mike Jukwe, sought the intervention of committee members in payment of practitioners’ fees by the Seaport Terminal and Airport Cargo Handlers (NAHCO) and SAHCOL.
He said this would be an added requirement for delivery of cargo.
“The Nigeria Customs Service should comply with the provision of Section 19 (1and 2) of the Council`s Act for the issuance and renewal of customs License only upon submission of valid certificate of registration issued by the CRFFN,’'’ he said.
Jukwe also urged the committee members to assist in ensuring that “the legislative processes to amend the long due enabling Act of the council which have been embarked upon is concluded in due time."