By Eromosele Abiodun and Oluchi Chibuzor
Following the Executive Order on ease of doing business across the nation’s seaports that was signed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Oshinbajo in 2017, heads of federal government agencies in the maritime sector have resolved to implement actionable plans towards a 24 hours port operations.
The agencies, which include Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), disclosed this at the second meeting of all the heads of maritime parastatals in the country in Lagos, recently.
They believed that port efficiency and effectiveness cannot be achieved without integration and synergy of stakeholders in the maritime sector.
Speaking at the meeting, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh said the agencies acknowledged the significance of having a workable multimodal transport system across the Nigerian seaports.
The meeting, he said, affords the chief executives of the federal government agencies the opportunity to deliberate areas where they have common challenges and to move the industry forward, while looking at ways to improve the safety of the waterways.
He intimated that the agency was in process of ensuring that floating duck are utilised in moving cargo out of ports into various dry ports location and the eastern part of the country.
“Part of the issue we deliberated today is on the issue of port community systems; what we did is that we agreed that we are going to have a committee that would look into the operationality of the port community systems, whereby the community would have a say in what we do in the Nigerian maritime domain.
“That committee would look into possibility of reaching out to ports operators and stakeholders alike and by extension look into the issue of 24 hours of the operationality of Nigeria’s port systems.
“The committee of the chief executives observed that port efficiency and effectiveness in any country cannot be achieved with 24 hours ports operation systems.”
On her part, the Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, reiterated the need for urgent implementation of the report of the Presidential Council on ease of doing business across government’s agencies.
According to her, “The NPA and some government agencies set about to commence 24 hours port operations, but as you know port operations cannot be done in isolation all agencies of the government and other stakeholders must come together.”
She said the CEO’s noted the need to give incentives for people to come and clear their cargo within 24 hours.
“This involves trans versing port locations at night, moving your cargoes outside all this location would enable consignees to be comfortable in coming to pick their cargoes within 24 hours, “she explained.
Commenting, the Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, said for the Nigerian port to be a hub is a function of efficiency, infrastructure and attitude.
“The country must make multimodal means of transport an economic issue; if for example I deploy train as we are doing to evacuate cargo for every train trip 38 trailers or trucks are taking out of the road. If we deploy our barges it mean about hundred trucks are also off the road. So the kiosk of gridlock is a function of inefficiency and lack of planning, “he said.
Accepting the challenged to come up with plan to commence delivering cargo via inland water ways, the Managing Director, NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, said it has issued an order to ensure all operators comply with necessary laws regarding safety in view of recurrent accidents in the nation ‘s water ways.