With the nation’s economy settled following the implementation of 2018 budget in the third quarter, MMS Plus x-rays the activities of transport agencies in the third quarter of 2018. Parastatals in the sector were crippled by the financial constraints with indebtedness even on the most negligible amount of money earlier but the funds were finally released. How did the major agencies in the transport sector fare in the third quarter this year?
For the grading system: A =90-100%, B+ = 80-89%, B =70-79%, C+ =60-69%, C =50-59%, D =40-49% and E = 30-39%, F = 0-30%. Enjoy it:
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
NIMASA is the agency saddled with the onus of maritime administration and safety; to pursue the development of shipping and regulatory matters relating to merchant shipping and seafaring.
The Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside set the pace for the agency early in the quarter with a strategic meeting with journalists in August, where he delivered the agency’s scorecard for the first half of 2018. How has the NIMASA boss managed his political ambitions vis-à-vis the administration of NIMASA? To ascertain this, we look at NIMASA’s core functions unbundled into ten (10) parts, each carries 10 points:
Administration and regulation of shipping licences:
NIMASA inaugurated a Maritime Committee on Nigerian Ship Register, saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that a review is done in ship registration process to ensure that it becomes more attractive to businesses, projects Nigeria’s image positively and ensure that it contributes positively to the nation’s economy. The committee headed by Engr. Emmanuel Ilori has just submitted its findings to NIMASA and Ilori expressed optimism that the Nigerian ship registry could take a commendable turn.
Score = 6/10
Administration, Regulation and Certification of Seafarers:
Nothing significant has been observed in this area as lack of Nigerian owned/ flagged vessels means no opportunities for seafarers to obtain the requisite seatime and become employable seafarers. The unfortunate situation led cadets under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) to protest at the entrance of NIMASA headquarters in September.
Score = 2/10
Establishment of Maritime Training and Safety Standards/ Regulation of safety of shipping as regards the construction of ships and navigation:
The dearth of competent officers to play this role remains an impediment, so it was not attended to in the third quarter of 2018.
Score = 0/10
Maritime Search and Rescue Services and Providing direction to ensure compliance with vessels security measures:
Search and rescue operations in the country is yet to improve, nevertheless, the equipment acquired for billions of naira are abandoned at the NIMASA Research Institute, at Kirikiri.
The NIMASA Director General has assured that the agency has equipment to enable it see all that is going on in the country’s maritime space and it was working hard to build capacity to respond when called upon.
He also stated that the Federal Government made new approvals for the Nigeria Navy for acquisition of helicopters that would also cover the aspect of search and rescue operations.
Score = 4/10
Provide Maritime Security:
NIMASA has been theoretically more vigilant to ensure that port facilities comply with the ISPS code to the extent that it grew compliance level to the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code from 13% to 80% and it got commendation from the Department of transportation at the United Kingdom and the United States Coast Guard. Nevertheless, operators continue to pay heavy sums to hire private security or get Naval personnel guard their vessels as a result of the insecurity on the nation’s waters.
The NIMASA boss also revealed that the agency was training a new crop of military men specifically for maritime surveillance.
“We hope that in the next four months there would be evident changes in terms of maritime safety. However, we are working very hard to reduce to the barest minimum the number of pirate cases in the nation’s waterways” the NIMASA Director General said recently.
Score = 4/10
Enhance and administer the provision of Cabotage Act 2003/ Control and prevent Maritime Pollution:
While NIMASA is proud that there haven’t been any complaints from IMO arising from shipping activities, a trip to the nation’s waters beggars believes that the waters aren’t polluted.
Although the agency acknowledges that there have been some complaints about polluted waters, it dispels the complaints as the areas that relate with the oil and gas sector.
Since NIMASA awaits complaints from IMO to figure out if the nation’s waters are indeed polluted, we should probably relax and enjoy the exceptional commendation in all IMO codes concerning the nation’s environment management; despite the fact that our waters speak dirt and pollution.
Score = 2/10
Develop and implement policies and programs, which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure:
Indigenous operators continue to clamour for better opportunities via local capacity ownership, manning, construction, among others, nevertheless, no programme has been organized and no policy was organized to address this function so far in 2018.
Score = 0/10
Perform Port and Flag State duties:
This function was characterized by poor service delivery throughout 2018. Let’s hope for a change in the last quarter of the year.
Score = 1/10
NIMASA reached a level where they received IMO commendations for following its conventions especially in compliance to ISPS code but the agency is yet to soar on the massive maritime advantages and cargo traffic in the nation.
Score = 7/10.
Carry out Air and Coastal Surveillance:
NIMASA performed well here but it was probably as a result of the collaboration between the agency, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Airforce. The new approvals for the Nigeria Navy for helicopters that would also cover the areas of search and rescue operations is a welcome development.
Score = 6/10
With the NIMASA Director General’s gubernatorial aspirations squashed as the Co-founder of Sahara Group, Tonye Patrick Dele-Cole emerged Amaechi’s preferred candidate for the forthcoming 2019 elections, Dakuku can be focused on the administration of NIMASA and the benefits should be expected in the administration of the agency in the last quarter of 2018.
Total Score 32/100
Grade E (32%)
Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)
The place of railway in transportation worldwide cannot be overemphasized and the Nigerian government has continued to intensify efforts to ensure that the dream of establishing a railway facility that connects the entire nation becomes a reality.
NRC has continued to enjoy major attention and support from the Federal Government since the railway projects have been central to connectivity of seaports to dry ports and hinterlands.
For the agency’s rating in the last quarter, NRC would be assessed based on five of its statutory functions with twenty marks for each.
Ensure safety of operations and maximum efficiency;
NRC did not record any major reports of train derailments but there were some accidents involving individuals walking around the rail tracks with loss of lives. No report of robbery, theft and other security breaches on the trains was recorded.
Score = 10/20
Manage and operate the railway for carriage of passengers and goods:
The railway management seems to be more technically sophisticated and informed about global best practices in railway management. Operational tactics have improved and the railway transport mode became more popular among Nigerians who still prefer to patronize the road mode to other means of transport.
NRC recorded impressive successes in freight patronage and set back in service delivery on both freight and passengers train in this half.
According to the NRC Director, Public Relations, Mr. Mahmoud Yakubu, about four trains of 20 to 25 wagons of containers loaded are moved from Apapa to Ebutte eta Junction (EBJ) station every day. This is a new initiative aimed at decongesting the ports as a result of the ongoing Apapa port road rehabilitation. Apapa to EBJ station is over seven kilometers. For the passengers’ trains, NRC runs Kano to Lagos, weekly; Lagos to Kano weekly and Lagos to Ilorin, weekly; Offa to Kano, weekly; Kano to Offa, weekly; Aba to Port Harcourt, Daily; Minna to Kaduna thrice a week, Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays and others and they are all functional trains.
The NRC management made efforts to provide technical and professional support to other stakeholders, however, there is still the challenge of inefficiency with the narrow gauge because of the conditions of the tracks as confirmed by the Transport Minister.
Despite impressively helping in the decongestion of the Apapa environment from the gridlock with the Lagos district’s commencement of a shuttle service in the face of the ongoing road construction, there were reports of poor attention to customers’ welfare which affected their service delivery.
Score = 12/20
Meet cost of operation; improve market share and quality of services;
There was renewed vigor by the NRC management to ensure improvement in the quality of services to their customers, most especially the freight owners.
Revenue generation is still tasking for NRC as it still finds it very hard to raise enough funds to meet its cost of operation thereby leaving it to the mercy of the Federal Government for bulk of its finances including the payment of workers’ salaries and other related expenses. This is a major burden on the government who still injects billions of naira into the sector without expected return.
New trains and locomotives were commissioned by the president, President Muhammadu Buhari at the Abuja-Kaduna station early in the year to meet up with demands at the stations. The president also recently commissioned the Abuja light train. Although, there was a relative increase in the fare at the Abuja station but, the Director, Operations, Mr. Niyi Alli justified the decision when quizzed by MMS Plus that the quality of services enjoyed by passengers at the station is commeasurable with the fare. The Abuja-Kaduna train was of qualitative services coupled with other customers’ service innovations.
Score = 6/20
Direct and control of any expansion or extension of the railway and the construction of new railway:
Buhari’s administration has set three major standard gauge rail lines for completion before the end of their tenure. These rail lines; Lagos-Kano, Lagos-Calabar, Port Harcourt- Maiduguri is estimated to cost $46 million according to the Minister for Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi and the project is expected to be executed in partnership with China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) and other investors who key into the project in the nearest future.
Similarly, the Narrow gauge which is about 3,505 is proposed for concession to an American consortium, General Electric (GE) who would rehabilitate, manage and operate it for some number of years.
Again, the Lagos-Ibadan segment of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge was projected to be completed, commissioned and used by December, 2018 while the Warri-Itakpe line was given June, 2018 timeline for completion according to the Nigerian transportation minister. Meanwhile there are doubts as to meeting up with the said timeline for completion due to so many factors.
Amaechi identified some challenges that have been slowing down work progress in the past. These ranges from challenges of utilities; water pipes, NNPC pipes carrying crudes and gas and petroleum on the right of way especially in Lagos heading towards the Apapa Seaport which may alter December, 2018, timeline set for getting the job completed as earlier stipulated even as he assured that federal government would still stick to the timeline.
The standard gauge from Itakpe in Kogi state through Ajaokuta, up to Warri in Delta state abandoned for over twenty years is currently under rehabilitation. According Mr. Mahmoud Yakubu, the coaches to be used on that standard gauge are already in the country and they have been conveyed by road to Warri.
Score = 8/20
Meet social responsibility in a manner that will meet the requirements of rail users, trade, commerce, industry and general public:
NRC cannot still meet the requirements of rail users, trade, commerce, and others. This is because of capacity constraints and neglect by government in the past and the existing railway act which is preventing the input of private investors.
There are still delays and non-adherence to time schedules without explanations in railway services in Nigeria especially in Lagos.
The DMU which is the standard coach and locomotive is still not affordable to the common man. There are some interventions and dispositions to corporate social responsibilities by NRC in the first half of the year.
Score = 6/20
The additional Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) locomotives and other modern facilities newly commissioned at the Kaduna-Abuja station and Abuja light train shows the government’s commitment to the railway revitalization project. Nevertheless, government is expected to address the issues of low capacity and poor customers’ welfare which has constituted a major setback in the sector. The demands for both passengers and freight services are still beyond the delivery of NRC.
Total Score = 42/100
Grade D (42%)
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) would be assessed based on five cores responsibilities with each function carrying 20points.
Regulating the safety of aircraft operations, air navigation and aerodrome operations
The global aviation industry witnessed several incidences and accidents but none resorted into any fatality or any serious injury in Nigeria in the third quarter. However, several incidents transpired as passengers were trapped for hours in fog unable to land. While Max Air on September 17th had passengers suffer a near-death experience as its aircraft spent 2hours 15minutes from Lagos to Abuja, Air Peace on September 22nd held passengers for over 3hours from Owerri to Lagos, with the plane unable to land and returning to Port Harcourt to refuel before eventually landing in Lagos.
Monitoring aircraft operating environment for safety and security
Although there were reports of repeated burglaries and theft in the Lagos airport early in the year but NCAA seem to have put some machineries in place to checkmate such incident. NCAA intensified surveillance via checking, rechecking, training, retraining, and inspections as much as possible to avoid recurrence of whatever happens is in the past on the operating airlines in the country following incidents that occurred in the nation’s aviation industry earlier in 2018.
NCAA should continue to adhere strictly to the eight critical elements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in order to prevent an accident from happening in the system, in its bid to consistently carry out safety oversight functions of operating airlines in the country.
Regulating methods of entry and conduct of air transport business:
NCAA didn’t rest on its oars but continued to beam its searchlight on all operators in order to prevent aviation disaster.
Balancing the economic interest of operators, users of aviation services
One could see the arbitrary charges and obvious extortion of passengers by operators who increase their charges at will and little or no regulation has emanated from NCAA. Only recently that the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) came to the aid of passengers but NCAA Director General picked offence and accused CPC of usurping NCAA duties.
Setting of Aviation Training Standards and approval of Training Institutions:
The industry may have compromised some of these core responsibilities. The image and rating of the nation’s aviation sector cannot be said to have reached the optimal trainings and necessary standards expected from NCAA.
As the country goes into the harmanttan season, challenges resulting from poor weather conditions would increase and NCAA should be ready to mitigate these challenges. Several near death experiences were recorded in September as planes spent hours unable to land in Lagos and Abuja.
Total score: 31/100.
Grade = E (31%)
Expect more grading and analysis of other transport sector agencies like Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accidents Investigation Bureau (AIB), among others, next week.