By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to ensure sustainability of maritime businesses in Nigeria and curb illicit vices in shipping, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) have initiated plans to develop businesses in the sector.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, revealed this yesterday while speaking at an event to mark the 2020 World Maritime Day (WMD) celebrated annually by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with this year’s theme, “Sustainable Shipping For Sustainable Planet.”
According to him, the move was borne out of the need to address the root causes of challenges like piracy and other maritime offences, which could be traced to the high level of poverty and poor livelihood of residents in coastal areas.
He assured that the arrangement would lead to provision of fiscal incentives to assist fishing and other maritime related businesses.
Noting that the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) has become the hub of piracy in the world, he assured that the Deep Blue Project and the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act would lead to a significant drop in piracy in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated that the maritime industry is pivotal to Nigeria’s attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He, however, noted that the country must put in place deliberate measures for the optimal utilisation of its enormous maritime potential.
The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, commended the Federal Government for its plan to move containers across the country with barges, adding that it would bring about more efficiency and ease the burden on the roads.
His words: “The theme of this year’s World Maritime Day, Sustainable Shipping For a Sustainable Planet, is apt and timely when we need to pay rapt attention to making our shipping process more environmentally friendly. It is also coming at a time when we need to support the maritime industry to contribute its quota to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development by 2030.”
“We need to optimise the potential of the maritime industry by utilising our waterways to transport goods and services from one destination to another locally. In respect of this, I must commend the Federal Government for the plan to begin transportation of containers from Lagos to Onitsha through barges and subsequently, to other parts of the country.”
In his keynote address, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, who joined the conference via a virtual platform acknowledged the security challenge on the nation’s waters and called for synergy among stakeholders in tackling the problem.
According to him, WMD 2020 was another opportunity for maritime industry stakeholders to deliberate on the myriad of challenges confronting shipping in the country.
He identified the Secure Anchorage issue as one of such issues that required greater understanding, transparency and in-depth deliberation by stakeholders.
In her remarks, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, commended the recent collaboration between the Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Police, and NIMASA in addressing maritime insecurity in the country.
Ikpeazu pledged the National Assembly’s support for the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, in his effort to galvanise the capacities of stakeholders towards maritime safety, security, and shipping development.
Some of the dignitaries present at the occasion included the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Sen. Danjuma Goje, who was represented by a member of the Committee, Sen. Tolu Odebiyi; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani; Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders (CRFFN), Mike Jukwe; Chairman, Nigerian Ship Owners Forum, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi; President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung; and the Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, Comrade Duji Efedua.