Addressing maritime journalists during the third Maritime
Stakeholders Interactive Forum in Lagos, Amaechi reveals that the
Minister of State for
Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki will personally be in charge of all maritime agencies while he will be focusing on the Railway sector.
Amaechi said “In my first term as Minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the Heads of Agencies. This time around, that won’t be happening again as I have instructed that the Honourable Minister of Transportation for State should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversight what is happening.”
He also said that he has discuss with President Mohammadu Buhari on the maritime security and Single Window projects.
“There are two things I discussed with Mr President that I will be focusing on in this second term as Minister, and they are maritime security and the Single Window project. I have assured the government that by the end of 2020, we should have the Single Window at our maritime sector.
“Just yesterday, we got approval to complete the $5.3bn Ibadan to Kano rail project. We have also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port-Harcourt to Warri segment.”
The Minister however decried the delays in executing the waterways security contract on the claims that buying the equipment meant for the project was the reason behind the delay
According to the Minister “The contractor claimed that equipment meant for the project is not what you buy off the shelf, that to me is not enough reason for the delay in the take-off of the project.
“They (HSLI) said they have to fabricate the equipment and bring it down to Nigeria, but we are losing man-hours, human beings and business to insecurity on our waters.”
In her speech , the Minister of Transportation for State, Gbemisola Saraki promised to work on issues associated with cadets having sea-time in Nigeria.
In her words, “Don’t forget that I chaired the Senate Committee on Marine Transport for four years, so maritime is not new to me. I am just going to take my time because newer issues, like insecurity, have come onboard.
“We are going to look at the issues of cadets not getting sea-time.
We are also going to look at the issues of ship registry and cargo
We want to know how many jobs the maritime sector will create.”
In his own presentation, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), appealed to the Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) to join the shipping lines in reducing charges at the ports.
“We are actually competing with the cost and demurrages at our ports. 35 per cent of the shipping line charges will be removed by next month, so I am appealing to STOAN to also come on board so that there would be a reduction of cost at our ports.
“There is also responsibility with the private sector to create a conducive atmosphere for their operations. The operating atmosphere in Nigeria is harsh. The government must improve its infrastructure.
“The problem we are having is that we only have one mode of transport at the ports, and this is not good.
“We need also to check the excesses of government agencies especially their charges. The NPA has no right to make any charge without references to the Shippers Council. Likewise Nigerian Railway Service and NIMASA, they don’t have the right to make any charge unless they discuss with us. But these things happen and are affecting the sector.
“I will like NIMASA as part of their contribution to remove certain instructions concerning charges at the ports.
“We urge the ministry of transportation to have a dialogue with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) because it is not actually the revenue that should be the main target but the promotion of trade and ease of doing business at the ports.”