Bud­get must turn around sea­ports’ in­fra­struc­ture, op­er­a­tors in­sist

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - MARITIME - Sto­ries by Su­lai­mon Salau

MAR­ITIME op­er­a­tors are anx­iously wait­ing for the pas­sage of the 2018 bud­get (N8.612 tril­lion) re­cently pre­sented by Pres­i­dent Mo­ham­madu Buhari to the Na­tional Assem­bly, to bring respite to the age­ing and di­lap­i­dated sea­ports in­fra­struc­ture across the coun­try.

The op­er­a­tors, who ex­pressed op­ti­mism that a large chunk of the bud­get went to the Min­istry of Works and Hous­ing headed by Raji Fashola (N555.88 bil­lion), as well as the Min­istry of Trans­port headed by Ro­timi Amaechi (N263.10 bil­lion), said much is ex­pected from the duo to res­cue the col­lapsed roads link­ing the sea­ports, par­tic­u­larly in La­gos.

Pres­i­dent, Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Gov­ern­ment Ap­proved Freight For­ward (NAGAFF), In­crease Uche, said: “The ma­jor area we want the bud­get to con­cen­trate is in­fra­struc­ture. The cur­rent state of in­fra­struc­ture is not enough to pro­pel the ports. We have to look at the rail in­fra­struc­ture, roads and wa­ter­ways be­cause th­ese are the three com­po­nents of In­land trans­port sys­tem that sus­tain the ports.

“The ports oper­a­tions have to deal with car­goes com­ing into the coun­try, and we need to move them to the hin­ter­land. You will dis­cover that the in­land trans­port sys­tem is not func­tional. There have been over con­cen­tra­tion on the road in­fra­struc­ture to the ex­tent that if you look at La­gos ports, the roads are al­most get­ting out of use, be­cause presently you can­not ac­cess the ports, and evac­u­at­ing car­goes from the ports has been a ma­jor prob­lem.

“Gov­ern­ment needs to go back to the draw­ing board right now to look at how to ar­rest the sit­u­a­tion. The next al­ter­na­tive now is to make sure that the Bakkasi deep sea­port and oth­ers are de­vel­oped, so that we can turn this ex­ist­ing port to in­dus­trial port. The ones in the Eastern part now are un­der­utilised and the in­fra­struc­ture there is de­cay­ing be­cause they are not put to use. So, gov­ern­ment needs to ex­pand and pro­vide even in­fra­struc­ture to the en­tire ports in the c oun t r y .

A renowned ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tor and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor/chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Eco­ma­rine Ter­mi­nals Lim­ited, Ba­lo­gun Moruf Ade­dayo, said the bud­get should fo­cus on dredg­ing of the Cal­abar chan­nel, rail link and road ac­cess to sea­ports.

Ade­dayo: “The first area I will talk about is Cal­abar Chan­nel dredg­ing, which will go a long way to re­lief the La­gos ports of the cur­rent chal­lenges and aid cargo move­ment to the North, and Eastern part of the coun­try as well as the land­locked coun­tries of Chad, Niger, and Mal­abo,”

He lauded the Nige­rian Ports Au­thor­ity (NPA) for its re­newed ef­forts on dredg­ing the ports, adding that the bud­get should fo­cus on the project and pur­sue it to a log­i­cal end.

Ade­dayo said the state of roads in Cross Rivers needs ur­gent at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially the Ikom bridge in Cal­abar, Oshodi-apapa Ex­press­way in La­gos, Cal­abar-ikot Ekpene road should get ur­gent at­ten­tion be­cause they al­low for easy evac­u­a­tion of goods from the sea­ports.

The Eco­ma­rine boss said the rail projects should also be ex­tended to the Eastern ports in other to meet the mul­ti­modal ob­jec­tive of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion, Ro­timi Amaechi, who was op­ti­mistic that the N263.10 bil­lion al­lo­cated to the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion in the 2018 bud­get would sail through at the Na­tional Assem­bly with­out any re­duc­tion, said his min­istry had been fac­ing bud­get re­duc­tions in re­cent past.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.