Our pri­vate sec­tor too weak to sup­port mar­itime dev - Amaechi

Daily Trust - - BUSI­NESS -

the fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies?

I hope you know the dry ports where there be­fore this ad­min­is­tra­tion. All the fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies had been done and all the nec­es­sary ap­provals got­ten be­fore now. All that we are do­ing is im­ple­men­ta­tion. But gov­ern­ment is not fund­ing them. Some of them have part­ner­ships with the state gov­ern­ments but its largely pri­vate sec­tor funds that are be­ing in­vested in the dry ports. How­ever, the state gov­ern­ments can pro­vide the roads and prob­a­bly power but the rest is pro­vided by pri­vate in­vestors.

How much is the mar­itime sec­tor cur­rently con­tribut­ing to the GDP and how much should it con­trib­ute if it is prop­erly har­nessed?

Cur­rently the con­tri­bu­tion is low, I think less than 4 per­cent to GDP but our tar­get is 55 per­cent con­tri­bu­tion to GDP. That is a part of the ques­tions the study we are con­duct­ing will an­swer: How much is the mar­itime sec­tor con­tribut­ing now? Is the right con­tri­bu­tion and how do we im­prove? All that will be an­swered.

What would you say are your ma­jor chal­lenges as min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion?

We have a prob­lem of fund­ing and ca­pac­ity. Most of the time as a min­is­ter, you can’t do the re­search. You need peo­ple to do the re­search and ad­vice you. You need to do plan­ning and or­ga­ni­za­tion.

There is this fight by In­tels and NPA about the sta­tus of the Onne ports. What is re­ally hap­pen­ing?

The mat­ter is in court so what I say may be sub­ju­dice.

Re­cently, you flagged off the dredg­ing of Onit­sha chan­nel in River Niger to en­hance in­land wa­ter trans­porta­tion with just N100 mil­lion. How fea­si­ble is that?

What do they use to dredge, is it not dredgers? We have dredgers. So if it takes the con­trac­tor 24 days to dredge, we can dredge in two months. Its bet­ter we just spend N100 mil­lion to pay staff and buy fuel. NIWA is do­ing it. We are not that rich. We can’t be blow­ing N47 bil­lion for some­thing we can achieve with less.

In fact, I told NIWA to in­clude in their bud­get for next year, the pur­chase of new and big­ger dredger; so that we don’t give con­tract on that dredg­ing again. Those who were us­ing River Niger but stopped be­cause of the silt­ing of the river are be­gin­ning to go back be­cause of the dredg­ing that is hap­pen­ing. Go and check if the dredg­ing isn’t suc­cess­ful.

What about river ports? the

We will com­plete the ones we can. We will com­plete Lokoja as Onit­sha has been com­pleted. There is Oguta too and Baro. Baro is com­pleted, just a few things left and it should be com­mis­sioned be­fore the year ends.

Our ports are still largely in­ef­fi­cient; which is why we are still los­ing cargo to neigh­bour­ing ports. What are you do­ing to change the nar­ra­tive?

You must give us time. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is do­ing sin­gle win­dow. Sin­gle win­dow means that in 24 hours, you will clear your goods. What we met on ground was ba­si­cally man­ual clear­ing of goods, which is what we are us­ing still but, we must de­ploy tech­nol­ogy. If you go to Sin­ga­pore, not more than 10 per­sons are man­ag­ing the goods at the ports. They have about 64 mil­lion TEUS (unit of cargo ca­pac­ity) in Sin­ga­pore but only 10 peo­ple man­age all that. They use tech­nol­ogy. You only find driv­ers of the trucks. If you spend more than three min­utes at the gate, some­one will ap­pear. That means some­thing may have failed be­cause you won’t see any­body there at the gate. But we are yet to re­solve as to who should de­ploy the tech­nol­ogy to han­dle the clear­ance at the ports.

We are de­bat­ing as to whether the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment should set up a com­pany to han­dle it or we con­ces­sion it to a pri­vate com­pany, we are yet to de­cide on that. The act­ing Pres­i­dent is chair­ing that com­mit­tee. But we are bring­ing in a pri­vate sec­tor com­pany to deal with the is­sues of gate and park­ing so we won’t be see­ing those trucks on the road again.

All these take time. Be­ing a gover­nor is won­der­ful. If it were when I was a gover­nor, if a pri­vate sec­tor comes with his money to in­vest, I just give the go ahead but here; there are a lot of te­dious and rig­or­ous pro­cesses to fol­low.

Ro­timi Amaechi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.