By Oyeniyi Iwakun
The Apapa traffic gridlock was top on discussion as an urgent need requiring a lasting solution at the 2017 fourth quarter meeting for stakeholders in the port sector, organized by the Ports Consultative Council (PCC) in Lagos.
The stakeholders resolved that there is urgent need to facilitate a meeting with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to discuss expedient measures required to remove the gridlock which has caused a lot of hardship on residents and other road users.
Another indentified challenge that needed expedient attention as highlighted in the meeting was the insecurity on Nigerian waterways and the ports which has been ravaged with the incessant militant attacks and other forms of sea robbery and piracy.
The meeting which was presided over by Otunba Kunle Folarin on Thursday 22nd, February 2018 had in attendance various port stakeholders including representatives from Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Shipping Companies, Importers, Freight Forwarders, Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and others.
Various committees submitted the ports performance and security reports for 4th quarters of 2017 before the Council for necessary action even as there was a resolution to meet with the Vice President to discuss the recommendations made at the meeting for necessary policy formulations.
Speaking with MMS Plus after the meeting, Mr. Bola Sunmola said the meeting was strategic to the development of the maritime industry because PCC as an advocacy group was saddled with the responsibility of alerting the federal government on issues that affect the growth of the nation’s ports.
Mr. Bolaji explained that various pertinent issues were trashed ranging from scanners, intermodal system, palletization, customs issues, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Shippers’ Council, NPA and others.
He said; “You will see that all the stakeholders that participated in today’s meeting are quickly gingered. We do not need to wait probably till the end of the year to set up another bogus committee. This is a proactive approach that ensures immediate remedy to things that are not working. That is the essence of the PCC quarterly meetings.”
When quizzed on the modalities for implementation of the recommendations especially the urgent need to tackle concerns raised on piracy and other crimes in Eastern ports, he said PCC would reach out to all concerned agencies so that things can be corrected.
“We don’t have the stake to say all that is discussed here must be implemented but we have our ways of ensuring that they are implemented with the efforts of other stakeholders. Our priority is to first of all to ensure that the gridlock is removed, and then all other things can follow.” He said
Engr. Samuel Shokunbi who also spoke exclusively with MMS Plus after the meeting expressed satisfaction with the conducts and deliberations at the meeting even as he advocated for expedient implement.
“This meeting is very fantastic and I am impressed. We have actually deliberated on all aspects of issues that affect ports operations but it is not just about bringing out suggestions, the best way to go is implementation. Everyone has given brilliant suggestions but we need high level of implementation, if not everything will come back to zero.” He said.
Engr. Shokunbi opined that government should look into the revitalization of railway transport system and also ensure that all port complexes are linked by railway facilities to enable effective and efficient ports activities.
“The trailer park had been under construction for a long time since President Goodluck Jonathan’s government and up till now, it has not been put into use. This is one of several other options that will decongest the port areas and its periphery. If we fail to do things in the right ways, we will come back again to complain. It is not about today, government should project towards tomorrow like the issue of railway”
However, one of the participants Captain Jide Olugunwa representing Nigerian Association of Master Marine expressed disappointment at the topic of discuss at the gathering as he expected that the council should be discussing on improvements.
“The report on the security when I hear access control that is surprising, whoever is conducting that control I expect some checks. I think that is a surprise and when I hear that there is no baggage scanner; is that report an internal or external report? That’s also not viable; the surprise I get here is as if nothing is working. That shouldn’t be the case and when I hear a report like this, it just gives me concern. Are we in a non-functional society? Why are we here? We should be talking about improvements; we shouldn’t be talking about going back to forty years.” He said.