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Maritime: Nigeria eyes top 70 countries on World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index

 …Developing intermodal transport

L-R: Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Winner, NIMASA Employee of the Year, Mrs Omagbemi Constance Evi, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and his wife, Funmilayo during the NIMASA Corporate Dinner & Merit Awards held in Lagos on January 18, 2020.

Taking the maritime sector as
economic anchor, the Federal Government says it is targeting placing Nigeria
among the first 70 countries in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index, a
most sought-after economic feat globally, by 2023.

The Secretary to the Government
of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, stated this Saturday night in Lagos
at the third edition of the annual Corporate Dinner and Merit Awards organised
by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

L-R: Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, his wife, Elima, Chairman Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and his wife, Funmilayo during the NIMASA Corporate Dinner & Merit Awards held in Lagos on January 18, 2020

That projection came as Minister
of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said the transportation
sector was being developed as a strategic driver of the President Muhammadu
Buhari administration’s economic diversification and growth agenda.

Amaechi said the government was
focused on the establishment of a strong intermodal transport system that would
facilitate seamless movement of goods and people and drastically reduce the
cost of transportation and business, generally.

Mustapha, who chaired the evening
of honours for outstanding maritime players, said recent improvements in the
Nigerian maritime industry had positioned it as a viable guarantee of economic
growth and wealth creation.

He disclosed with delight that
Nigeria had moved from 170 to 131 in the global ease of doing business table
since Buhari established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council
(PEBEC) in July 2016.

The council was set up to remove
bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country an
increasingly easier place to start and grow a business.

Mustapha said the PEBEC
initiative, coupled with significant developments in ports and maritime, had
engendered great improvements in ease of doing business in the country.

“In our bid to improve efficiency
and productivity in the maritime industry and the country at large, the PEBEC
was created to ensure an enabling environment for port efficiency. Government
will continue to support the maritime sector because on it rests opportunities
for wealth creation and economic growth,” he stated.

On his part, Amaechi said with a
developed transport sector, “There will be increased productivity, which comes
with creation of more jobs and production of more goods and services. All these
will make the economy more competitive, reduce dependence on oil, and usher in
economic growth. This is our target.”

According to him, “We are aware
that transportation is key in any economic development plan. The major elements
of production – raw materials, machines, people, finished products, etc. – have
to be seamlessly moved from one point to the other as the need arises.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari
government is implementing a transport policy, which entails linking all
seaports in the country by rail, in line with global best practices. All over
the world, the most efficient way to transport heavy cargo is by water and

“We have a 25-year rail
modernisation programme, involving the development of a comprehensive
intermodal system. We are taking the rail from where the past governments
stopped to the seaports. The Lagos-Kano rail line, which began from Ebute
Metta, is being taken from Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport.

“We will take it from Tin Can and
Apapa to connect the new Lekki port. The rail line from Lagos to Calabar links
Port Harcourt, Onne, and Warri seaports. Our goal is to have a system where
importers would bring in their goods and load them on the rail that takes them
to the hinterland, thus, easing the pressure on the roads and increasing their

On the economic significance of
transportation, Amaechi said, “Adequate investment in transport infrastructure
will enhance the efficiency, reliability, and capacity of the transportation
system, which will, in turn, lead to lower transport costs, shorter transit
times, increased business efficiency, and business expansion, as money
previously spent on transport is ploughed back into business.”

In his welcome address, the
Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, noted the significant change
in the reputation of the Agency in the last few years. Dakuku said the
burnished image was part of the fruits of the Management’s deliberate effort to
change the old ways of doing things in the industry and the Agency, for the
overall good of the economy.

He highlighted some of the
achievements of the Agency in the last three years to include the Final Billing
regime, which has significantly reduced turnaround time for all vessel billing
transactions from reduced turnaround time for all vessel billing transactions
from between five and 10 years to two weeks of the ship’s departure; increased
tonnage, with Nigeria currently placing second in Africa, after Liberia; and
reduction of turnaround time for issuance of Sailing Clearance from about one
year to 14 days.

Other achievements of the Agency,
according to Dakuku, include digital transformation; improved maritime safety,
security, and domain awareness; the tripartite agreement by maritime
stakeholders, which has ensured harmonious labour relations in the industry;
renewed capacity building drive through implementation of a five-year Cabotage
cessation plan; and enhancement of the Nigerian Ship Registry.

Highlights of the occasion
included the conferment of awards to outstanding maritime industry players and staff

One hundred and eighty-one staff of the Agency bagged long service
awards for 15-30 years of service, with Mrs. Constance Omagbemi getting the
coveted Employee of the Year.

GAC Shipping Company won the
Overall Shipping Company of the Year, among eight awardees of the Industry
Stakeholders Merit Award. They were Total Exploration and Production Company,
AP Miller Terminal, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), and the Maritime
Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron.

Others were West African Ventures,
Awaritse Nigeria Limited, and Sea Navigation International Limited.

Six state governors graced the
occasion, including the host governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of Lagos State,
who came with his deputy, Femi Hamzat, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State,
Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, and Godwin
Obaseki of Edo State. Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State was represented by
the Deputy Governor, Manassah Daniel Jatau.

Other dignitaries included
Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, who
represented Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Chairman, House of Representatives
Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu;
Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Managing Director,
Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; and Managing Director of
National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Muoghalu.

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