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Agbakoba, others seek special ministry for maritime sector

The National Assembly has been urged to champion the
complete reforms going on in the maritime sector by sponsoring and enacting a
bill that will lead to the creation of Ministry of Maritime Industry (MoMI).

The Ministry, when created, the stakeholders said,
would assist the government to restore the lost glory of shipping and
maritime sector of the economy.

Speaking at a stakeholders forum organised by the
Senate Committee on Marine Transport in collaboration with the Federal Minister
of Transport in Lagos on Thursday, the founding president of the Nigerian
Chamber of Shipping (NCS), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), and other stakeholders
urged members of the National Assembly to impress it on the Federal Government
to create a special ministry for  the maritime sector and introduce other
reforms that would bring about efficiency and productivity at the nation’s sea ports.

The  maritime lawyer also bemoaned the
collapsed of the ports access roads, and decried the situation which has
resulted to additional transportation costs as a result of inaccessibility to
the ports, which warranted demurrage on both empty and loaded containers.

He said: “What we need is appropriate policy
mechanism and appropriate legal framework and appropriate institutions.

“We really do not need the maritime industry under
the ministry of transport; what we need is a ministry of shipping.”

Speaking on the trouble people face going and coming
from the Lagos ports, he urged members of the committee and the Federal
Government to direct the contractor handling the Ijora Bridge to fix the failed
section of the bridge to reduce the hardship.

Also,  the Chairman,  Seaport Terminal
Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), the umbrella body of terminal
operators in the country, Princess Vicky Haastrup said that the closure of a
section of the Ijora Bridge, which links Apapa to other parts of the Lagos
metropolis through the Wharf Road, has contributed significantly to the problem
of quick cargo clearance from the ports.

Terminal operators, she said, are facing serious
challenges in paying their workers because of the numbers of days it take to berth
vessel at their terminals because of the gridlock.

The Chairman of Port Consultative Forum, Chief Kunle
Folarin,  and other speakers at the event suggested improvement in
infrastructure and service delivery.

Folarin said the facilities at the ports should be
upgraded to feature modern equipment, good road network as he decried a
situation where it takes several days for vehicles to access the Lagos ports.

The Director -General, Nigerian Maritime
Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Executive
Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello, and Managing
Director Nigerian Inland Waterways (NIWA), Olorunnibe Mamora, commended the
committee for bringing legislative matter to the door step of Nigerians.

The committee members, they said, deserved
commendation based on their patriotic and pragmatic approach to issues of
national interest.

The heads of the maritime agencies assured the
committee of their support and collaboration to move the industry forward.

Over 700 stakeholders attended the event held at Eko
The Nation. 

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