2024 Fiscal Year: N67.5 billion Earmarked For Transport, Marine Sectors

2024 Fiscal Year: N67.5 billion Earmarked For Transport, Marine Sectors
Minister of Marine and Blue Economy

· FG seeks  $35billion for railway project

· Lekki Deep Sea Port listed for rail connectivity

· Oyetola lobbies National Assembly for CRFFN

The Federal Government is to spend N67.5 billion for the transportation and marine sectors in the2024 fiscal year, with a comprehensive infrastructural development plan which include port modernization and rehabilitation as well as development of railway corridors and coastal waterways dredging.

Consequently, at last, the $1.5billion Lekki Deep Sea port has been listed in 2024 budget for rail connectivity after several years of exclusion on account of paucity of funds.

Determined to ensure the actualization of the Integrated Infrastructure Master-Plan in the Transport Sector, the Ministry said an estimated sum of $35billion is needed for adequate and functional railway system in the transport sector.  

Itemized in the budget presentations were the modernization of Apapa and Tin Can ports, rehabilitations of eastern ports, dredging of inland and coastal waterways, among others, as the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola has intensified efforts to ensure that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN) is excluded from the list of professional bodies and councils barred from budgetary funding.

He therefore called on the National Assembly Committees to revisit the CRFFN’s appropriation for 2023 which was erroneously removed especially when the directive is to commence effect from 2026 fiscal year.

According to the Minister of Transportation, Sen. Said Alkali, “presently, the Ministry plans to connect close to 6,000 Kilometers of Standard Gauge Railways and rehabilitating existing 3,505km Narrow Gauge Lines between the North and South, East and West Regions of the country to reach the oil and mineral resources zones, agricultural belt as well as port of origin and destination especially the  Lekki Deep Sea Port’.

2024 Fiscal Year: N67.5 billion Earmarked For Transport, Marine Sectors
From right: Transportation Minister, Senator Said Alkali; his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani and the Directors and Heads of agencies under his Ministry to defend a N46.6 Billion budget 2024 proposal before the relevant National Assembly committee on Thursday, last week in Abuja.

This, he said, can only be achieved effectively through investments and injecting institutional and private sector funds from the international development financing entities that will seize the opportunity to gain partners for Nigeria. Getting these funds from the international to financing institutions has, however, been challenging over the past few years. For example, the ongoing Lagos – Kano and Kano – Maradi Railway Modernization Project and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Eastern Narrows gauge has been slowed by funding. “The Ministry also has some debt liability of unpaid Certificates for Job  Completion under the Lagos – Ibadan Railway Project,” Alkali added.   

The Minister presented a budget of N46.6billion last week, before the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Land Transport for the Ministry and its agencies for the 2024 fiscal year. 

 Defending a total budget of N46,589,785,975  for 2024 fiscal year, Alkali also  presented the 2023 budget performance of the Ministry, which is a total of  N91,474,422,746)  for Capital Appropriation ,out of which N53,405,649,354.00 representing 58..38%  has been released, and  N47,426,760,923 has been utilized as of 29th November, 2023 .  

 According to the Minister, the sum of N382,185,472 was appropriated for overhead expenditure, out of which N254,799,314,70 was released, adding that the sum of N248,711,874.15 of the released amount was expended as of 12th December, 2023.             

Alkali further informed the legislators that under the Railway Modernization Programme, the last administration stridently pursued the expansion of railway networks in the country. “To consolidate on the achievements recorded therefore, President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s led Administration created the Ministry of Transportation, that focuses on only Land transportation, comprising of Road transport and  rail transportation to close the infrastructural gap in the country and support national economic growth, create employment, generate wealth and improve the standard of living of citizens.”

2024 Fiscal Year: N67.5 billion Earmarked For Transport, Marine Sectors
Oyetola and Ajani at 2024 budget defence session in Abuja

The Minister revealed plans to scale up transportation and logistics value chain that is commensurate with Nigeria’s population and size.  He said that this would ensure the connection of important industrial and agricultural hubs with railway networks.”

Alkali who expressed a strong hope and willingness of enhancing the transportation system in the country by addressing critical needs of the country’s rail infrastructure and propel it towards a more efficient, valuable and sustainable transport system, thus ensuring the realization of vital rail modernization in the country, decried that funding is one of the critical challenges in the sector. 

While soliciting favorable budget consideration, the Minister said, “I therefore seek your cooperation to ensure injection of special intervention funding for the expansion of the railway networks which is a catalyst to economic development. In pursuit of the rehabilitation and modernization programme, suitable capacity building programme by the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), Zaria is focusing on the improvement of its basic infrastructure, increasing its research base and expansion of its training drive. To this end, the Institute is planning to acquire State of the Art equipment and complete the ongoing outreach learning centres in four (4) Geo-polutical zones of the country.”                  

 Alkali seized the opportunity to further emphasize that the Ministry as part of its mandate has continued to pursue the implementation of government policies in the Land Transport Sub- sector in the country, including issues relating to the  Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the realization of the transport interconnectivity for the sub-region. 

“I and my team have resolved to work hard at ensuring the realization of Nigeria’s  Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, however, meeting the set target is significantly challenged by funding gap especially the background of dwindling revenue accruing to the country. In the Railway Transport Sub- sector, an investment portfolio of close to US$35 Billion is estimated as the funding need for functional railway system.

2024 Fiscal Year: N67.5 billion Earmarked For Transport, Marine Sectors
National Assembly members at the budget defence session

Earlier, the Chairman, Joint Senate/House Committees on Land Transport, Sen. Mohammed  Adamu Aliero in his opening remarks, commended  President Ahmed Bola Tinubu for  creating  the Ministry of Land Transport, comprising Railway and Mass Transit, saying it is the first time such is happening in the history of the country.

According to him, “Our nation’s progress is intricately tied to the efficiency and development of our transportation infrastructure, making this budget defence a pivotal moment for shaping the trajectory of our country’s future.” 

Sen. Adamu Aliero, while giving the assurances that the Committees will support the Minister and the agencies to succeed, enjoined them to see to it that the budget that will be approved for the Ministry, is implemented faithfully, to deliver government’s intentions of the actualization of the President’s “Renewed Hope Agenda.” A renewed hope which must be felt in the area of land transport with particular focus on our rail transport sector and mass transit, thereby delivering democracy dividends to Nigerians.” 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy at a separate forum presented a budget of N10.9billion for his ministry in the 2024 fiscal year before the joint House Committees of the Senate on Marine Transport and the House of Representatives Committees on Ports and Harbour, Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Inland Waterways and Shipping services.  

The Minister, Oyetola, stated that the proposed budget is to enable the newly created Ministry performs its prime role of oversight and monitoring of the implementation of government policies across agencies under its purview in the marine and blue economy domain. 

“You are aware that the 2024 budget is for economic growth, therefore, the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and its agencies under the 2024 budget seek to consider and sustain  the achievements and performances recorded in the past years”, Oyetola noted.

 The Minister noted that the Ministry will place primacy on ports infrastructural development by way of modernization of the Apapa and Tin Can ports that are dilapidated and have almost reached end of life, while also having plans to rehabilitate the Eastern ports and equally dredging the inland and coastal waterways. 

To realize these initiatives, Oyetola solicited the Committees to appropriate needed funds as proposed in the budget of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Inland Waterways to facilitate the projects.

On the need for rehabilitation of the ports, the Minister stated that while the Port  Act of 1956, enabled the concession of the ports, the Federal Government still retains ownership of these ports and it behooves on them as landlords to continually ensure that the ports are best maintained and kept in optimal state to enable usage and interest from the concessionaires.

Other focal areas the Minister noted  include maritime administration, building human capacity while also harping on an effective technical and economic regulation that will ultimately ensure the strengthening of the Blue Economy in Nigeria.

Presenting the Ministry’s budget, the Minister was accompanied heads of the agencies supervised by the Ministry, namely Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).

 Oyetola informed the committee that the NPA, NIMASA and NSC are fully self-funding and also make reasonable remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF/TSA).

Spokesperson for the joint House Committees and the Senate, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Sen. Wasiu Sanni, in his opening remarks, stated that the 2024 budget defence included performance review for 2023 which would provide adequate and further insight into propositions captured in the 2024 budget proposal.

He assured the Minister of the heads of the NASS Committees’ commitment of necessary support needed by the maritime sector to perform optimally, as doing this translates to boosting remittances to the federation account and as well the overall gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

Contributions from different committee members reflected their expectations of the new Ministry with emphasis on attracting more ship that call on our ports by way of draught level, seamless port clearance such as cargo scanners amongst others. 

NASS members also shared unanimous views to support the Ministry on its drive to initiate the coastal guards, facilitate release of cabotage funds to aid indigenous shipping lines and others. 

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