- Saraki, Usman, others say document to unlock blue economy potentials
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman (left), Sen. Ibrahim Yahaya, who represented the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu, during the Stakeholders Validation Forum on the draft National Maritime Transport Policy in Lagos…recently
Maritime stakeholders have described the new National Maritime Transport Policy as key to unlocking the potentials of the blue economy, and means to improved international competitiveness and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow.
Speaking in Lagos during the stakeholders’ validation forum on the draft transport policy, the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, said it would give Nigeria a pride of place in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The meeting was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Transportation to get stakeholders’ buy-in and input as the policy document was being fine-tuned to give Nigeria a robust maritime transport system in line with international best practice.
Saraki, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, stated that if adopted, this policy would mark a generational paradigm shift in Nigeria’s economic competitiveness.
“The National Maritime Transport Policy is a framework that will guide and sharpen the activities, actors and modus operandi in the maritime sector,” she said.
“It is an all-encompassing document that will skyrocket the sector to compete favourably in the global market. That is why this document is extremely important and crucial to the development of the sector.”
According to her, “it is encouraging that the maritime policy is coming up when Nigeria has ratified the AfCTA agreement and deposited it with the AU Secretariat. This is an agreement that will place Nigeria in place of leadership if we adequately prepare for the protocols.
“Therefore, it is expedient for us to make the maritime sector ready for the AfCFTA transit protocols and other international protocols for us to compete favourably in the regional and global market.”
On her part, Ajani described the document as “the bedrock of development,” noting that “Nigeria, like other nations, has recognised the integral role (that) policies play in developmental process and, as such, engendered different processes to drive her quest for a sustainable, feasible and generic National Maritime Transport Policy.
“This will boost the maritime sector and widen the horizon to enable it serve the domestic market and have comparative advantage globally.”
Similarly, Chairman of the National Maritime Transport Policy Committee, Dr. Paul Adalikwu, insisted that “the maritime sector cannot be administered successfully without a policy document that contains genuine, reliable and updated data” that can stand the test of time.
Adalikwu, who is the Director, Maritime Safety and Security in the ministry, said the policy document aimed to develop “a maritime industry that is income-generating, self-sufficient, and competitive with comparative advantage in the regional and global markets.”
For the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, the new transport policy is key to unlocking the huge potentials and vast opportunities in the nation’s blue economy.
According to Usman, such well-articulated policy would support local content development, create good value jobs and attract highly impacting direct foreign investments within the context of the Federal Government’s economic growth and sustainability agenda.
Therefore, “we look forward to a policy with clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) that would guide our various operations, that would be strengthened by critical legal framework and legislation from the National Assembly.
“The policy should engender a competitive maritime domain with clear rules on institutional governance, service capacity and accountability.”
She called for greater synergy and collaboration between the public and private sector stakeholders to advance the interest of the nation’s maritime industry.
Meanwhile, Usman explained that in the agency’s recently launched Electronic Call-Up System for Trucks (ETO), “the web application would control the movement of trucks in and out of the ports in an orderly and safe manner, on a first come, first served basis.”
She listed the expected benefits to the sector and the country to include quick truck turnaround time, reduction in port cost, transparent traffic management system and, above all, a business-friendly and globally competitive port system in Nigeria.