The House of Representatives yesterday decried the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over its failure to support efforts at reviving the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Onitsha inland ports.
The NCS drew the fury of the lawmakers for failing to send its officials to the public hearing aimed at repositioning the ports and ultimately the nation’s economy, which commenced yesterday.
Chairman of the committee, Mr. Yusuf Buba Yakub, who expressed angst over the absence of the customs officials, described their action as a slap on the National Assembly.
Yakub, who recalled how Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had to travel to Lagos over congestion of the ports at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, vowed that the House would henceforth not condone such act from the NCS.
He enjoined all critical stakeholders to support every attempt at decongesting the Lagos ports, revive ports in other regions, create jobs and boost the nation’s economy
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who declared the hearing open, lamented that the Nigerian maritime sector remains one of the country’s untapped economic resource base.
He added that operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country would help to develop the economic potential of their host communities and their neighbouring areas.
Represented by Deputy House Leader, Mr. Peter Akpatason, he stated that the House desired to revive the ports to enable them run at their absolute best, creating jobs, facilitating trade, attracting investments and contributing to the steady growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Sabiu Zakari, acknowledged that the problems associated with congestion at the nation’s ports lies with implementation of laid down rules and regulations.
He, however, applauded moves to enact relevant laws aimed at repositioning the nation’s ports.
Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, who appeared on behalf of the Nigeria Navy supported Zakari’s submission, adding that there was the need to resolve pending issues relating to inter agency rivalry, multiple taxation, infrastructure decay, as well as maritime regulations and governance to ensure maximum capacity at the nation’s ports.