Port Infrastructure Deficit Huge, Need For Rehabilitation Urgent-Minister
“We’ll resolve the issues, solve the problems and make the ports attractive and competitive”-Saraki
The minister of state for transport Senator Gbemisola Saraki, after days of inspection of facilities in the ports of Lagos has concluded that there is urgent need to fix the broken and decayed infrastructure to save the ports from total collapse.
From the Lagos port complex to Tin Can and Kirikiri terminals, the Minister lamented the state of disrepair, near-collapse and abandonment of Port facilities by authorities owing to budgetary constraints or lack of approval from the Federal Government.
Notwithstanding, Saraki, buoyed by the exit of erstwhile minister of transportation honorable Rotimi Amaechi has risen to the occasion, pledging to right the wrongs and shortcomings of the former minister of transportation.
Addressing the media executive on a wide range of issues such as the Nigerian Seafarers Development Program NSDP Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, CVFF, National Transport Commission, (NTC), Bill, Terminal Operators, Floating Dock, IMO Category C quest amongst others, the minister explained that in the days to come, far-reaching decisions will be taken to address all the gaps affecting maritime development in the country.
She disclosed that immediate, short and long-term solutions will be introduced which will allow resolutions of identified gaps without disrupting port operations in anyway.
According to the minister “I decided to embark on this fact-finding mission to the port in Lagos to evaluation and ascertain our operational capacity and efficiency. It is a stock taking mission to enable the Ministry plan and strategize on how best to reposition the ports, make them competitive and ensure that we create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive”
“We have seen and heard. The next thing is to take decisions that will resolve the issues, solve the problems and make the ports attractive and competitive.
Speaking on the CVFF, Floating Dock, NTC Bill and other lingering issues the Minister said:
From 2003 when the Federal Government set up the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to address the lack of capacity among indigenous ship owners in Nigeria, the Fund has risen to $350 million dollars and I want to assure maritime stakeholders that we have the political will to ensure disbursement of the fund. It does not make sense to have the Fund kept indefinitely.
Any sea Port being constructed by government or private-sector operators must be linked by rail for efficient cargo evacuation.
We will see to it that terminal operators agreement are reviewed and appraised. The ports are our assets and there is need to fix the decay, review agreements entered into and keep the ports and terminals active and efficient for generations to come,
Contrary to insinuations, the floating dock is not idle. The floating dock is not a car that you can move around at will. we have concluded plans to have it operated on a Public-Private-sector Partnership, PPP, arrangement which will benefit the country.
National Transport Commission Bill
The Bill is receiving attention at the National Assembly and as soon as observed issues are addressed, the bill will be passed in law and it could become operational shortly.
IMO Category C Quest
It is not about contesting every time election are due into the Council. We need to put our house in order, look inward and carry out audit of our needs and gaps before venturing out again.