The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, said on Thursday that improving on port efficiency was one of the priorities of his administration.
Amaechi stated this at a two-day conference on “Improved Ports Efficiency in Nigeria’’, organised by the Maritime Correspondents Organisation of Nigeria (MARCON).
He said that after assumption of duty, he discovered that a lot still needed to be done to improve port administration in the country.
Amaechi said that the role of maritime industry in the economic, political as well as social development of any nation could not be over- emphasised.
He said that the Federal Government was committed to building a virile and efficient platform that would advance the contribution of the maritime sub-sector to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
Amaechi said that the contributions of the maritime industry would also serve as an alternative source of government revenue.
“As we know, seaports are entrances and exit gates through which the trade needs of transit and landlocked countries are met.
“The nation’s ports, therefore, provide the interface between land and sea and the most cost-effective mode of transportation,’’ the minister said.
He said that prior to Port Reform of 2006 in Nigeria, ports services were characterised by inadequate funding, inefficiency, bureaucratic bottlenecks due to presence of multiple and uncoordinated security agencies.
Amaechi said that the era of Public Private Partnership (PPP) had brought efficient port service, adding that there was an upsurge in cargo throughput and reduction in cargo dwell time.
He said that the concessioning era had improved Vessel Turnaround time, adding that it had also improved ports infrastructure, upgrading and Greenfield development.
Amaechi said that in spite of the tremendous development in the port sector, there was still need to make Nigerian ports cost effective to attract more business.
He said that the present administration had realised that the maritime sub-sector globally was largely private sector- driven.
The minister said that government would provide the appropriate policy and regulatory framework to improve investment and safeguard the nation’s waterways.
Also speaking, the President of MARCON, Mr Ismail Aniemu, said that the association was concerned that the leadership positions in some of the agencies under the ministry of transportation were filled in acting capacity.
Aniemu said that the situation was affecting quick decision making in terms of efficiency and operation of some agencies.
He said that ship registration, Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), Maritime Development Fund constituted pressure points in the pursuit of increased capacity and growth.
“Industry stakeholders’ expectations from these laudable government initiatives are still high in terms of implementation and benefits to the country,’’ Aniemu said.