Gridlock, maritime safety top stakeholders’ concern
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