Grid­lock, mar­itime safety top stake­hold­ers’ con­cern

The Punch - - ENERGY - Anna Okon

Top on the of ex­pec­ta­tions of stake­hold­ers in the mar­itime sec­tor this year are so­lu­tions to the per­sis­tent grid­lock along the port ac­cess roads and mar­itime safety.

The stake­hold­ers who spoke in sep­a­rate in­ter­views with our correspond­ent in­sisted that for the Nige­ria mar­itime in­dus­try to grow and com­pete with its peers in other parts of the world, the gov­ern­ment had to fo­cus on pro­vid­ing se­cu­rity and pro­tect op­er­a­tors and ves­sels from at­tacks.

one of the stake­hold­ers who spoke with our correspond­ent, the Chair­man, Nige­rian Shipown­ers Fo­rum, Mrs Ma­garet orak­wusi, said the grid­lock at Apapa was a big problem, ex­press­ing the hope that it would lessen in 2020.

She said the grid­lock came with at­ten­dant problem of steal­ing and other chal­lenges faced by op­er­a­tors in their at­tempt to gain ac­cess to the port.

She also called for safety struc­tures to be put in place to in­still con­fi­dence in op­er­a­tors.

orak­wusi urged the gov­ern­ment to make avail­able a quick re­sponse sys­tem for ves­sels that might be in dis­tress at sea.

She said with­out a quick re­sponse in­fra­struc­ture to res­cue peo­ple who were in dis­tress at sea, op­er­at­ing in the sec­tor would be risky.

She said, “There should be a swift re­sponse struc­ture. That is why I keep talk­ing about coast guard be­cause if safety is a chal­lenge, it will be too risky to op­er­ate in the Nige­rian wa­ters.”

on the Cab­o­tage Ves­sel Fi­nance Fund, orak­wusi said it should be used to fund a na­tional ship­ping line, say­ing that if it is done that way, the fund would not be avail­able for peo­ple of ques­tion­able char­ac­ter to list ac­cess it and start telling sto­ries later.

orak­wusi also ad­vo­cated a long last­ing and ef­fec­tive man­age­ment of the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion to in­herit its ben­e­fits and for stake­hold­ers to en­joy div­i­dends.

An of­fi­cial of the Joint Coun­cil of Sea­port Truck op­er­a­tors, God­win Ikeji, called on the Min­is­ters of Trans­porta­tion and of Works to take a holis­tic look at the Apapa grid­lock and find a long last­ing so­lu­tion to it this year.

He main­tained that the grid­lock was not only caused by the bad road but by peo­ple he de­scribed as ‘eco­nomic sabo­teurs’ who were gain­ing from the sit­u­a­tion.

He said a sit­u­a­tion where ve­hi­cles ‘fly’ from First Gate to Mile 2 had to be stopped.

Ikeji called for repa­ra­tion for truck op­er­a­tors, say­ing that many of them had died from frus­tra­tion aris­ing from the chal­lenges of years of grid­lock.

He said the port con­ces­sion law needed to be re­viewed be­cause there were lots of loop­holes that con­tributed to the sit­u­a­tion at the port.

on his part, the Zonal Co­or­di­na­tor, Save Nige­ria Freight For­warders, Dr osita Chukwu, ad­vised that Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment should look at mar­itime se­cu­rity as an is­sue of great con­cern.

He raised con­cerns over the fact that the bulk of the na­tion’s bud­get was spent on the fight against in­sur­gency, ar­gu­ing that there was no trans­parency in bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion as eight times the amount al­lo­cated to other sec­tors was set aside for fight against in­sur­gency.

on the grid­lock, he said there was a need to de­cen­tralise the move­ment of car­goes, ad­vis­ing that car­goes should be chan­neled to other ports out­side La­gos to free the La­gos ports of space.

While com­mend­ing the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work done on the roads, Chukwu stated that enough had not been done to put the roads in or­der.

• L–R: Vice Pres­i­dent, Char­tered In­sti­tute of Tax­a­tion of Nige­ria, Adesina Ade­dayo; Pres­i­dent, CITN, Gla­dys Sim­plice; spe­cial guest, Dr Udochukwu Og­bonna; and Chair­man, Mem­ber­ship and Pro­fes­sional Con­duct Com­mit­tee, CITN, Rev Ben­jamin Omon­ayajo, at the 41st CITN in­duc­tion in La­gos... re­cently. Photo: CITN

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