Mrs. Mary Hamman is the President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria. She is an Assistant Director, Shipping Department in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In this exclusive interview with MMS Plus she reviews the achievements and challenges of the transport sector in 2016, explains the role of WISTA Nigeria in mentoring and networking and also reveals how she comes out tops ahead of her male counterparts at NIMASA.
How would you appraise the Nigerian Transport Sector in 2016?
In 2016, all hands were on deck following the emergence of the new Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, everyone tried to do his/ her bit to meet up the standard he has set. The Minister has been pushing several agencies as well as the organized private sector groups in order to actualize certain things such as the development of a national carrier. He wants stakeholders to come together for Nigeria to be able to address the issues that made the nation not participate fully in the global shipping business. Several committees have been set-up to find out solutions to these problems. The emergence of a national carrier in Nigeria would enable the nation get the best from the shipping industry.
Are there issues that you think should have been handled better or in a different way in 2016?
Well, several issues have been there such as the roads leading to the ports because the traffic gridlocks in places like Apapa has been discouraging people from coming to the ports to do their legitimate businesses.
The trucks that have lined up on the roads because of the condition of the roads is just outrageous. I think they should have worked faster to introduce a rail system where tankers and other containers are taken out of the port environment without stressing the roads. This would have eased the problems we had with the road which was one of the major problems in 2016.
They could have also devised other means on how to control the trucks coming into Apapa to say let us have about 5 -15 trucks per hour so that the roads wouldn’t be as congested as we witnessed last year. However, most people who work in Apapa have found ways of beating the traffic by utilizing the waterways from Ajah, Marina and Ikorodu to Apapa. The ferry has brought a bit of respite to Apapa workers but the port access roads should never be in such state.
How long have you been President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria?
I was elected as president in June, 2015. Prior to that time I was the Vice President of the association. I had also functioned as the secretary to the association in past. I was the Secretary for four years and I was also the treasurer of the association for another four years. I was also the chairperson of the membership committee for four years too. So, I have always been in the management position of WISTA Nigeria before I took over as the President.
What has been the highpoints of your administration as president in the last two years?
Well, we have actually been unable to do some of the things that the previous administration did because of the economic situation of the country. We have so many things in the pipeline that we hope to achieve but the cash flow isn’t there because the economy has changed. The emergence of a new government made things really slow but we have been encouraging the young women to come into shipping. We have organized several lectures for them and we encourage them to some of our luncheons and invited undergraduates as well as secondary school students because we want them to begin to hear about shipping from such tender ages. This also makes the jobs easier as we network with young members that are already employed in some maritime or shipping related organizations. If you need jobs or you need employment you could just be in touch with your next client or employer through WISTA. The essence of the association is to get in touch and stay in touch so that we share business ideas, have the contact, maximize the potentials to network with one another, etc. I can’t say that we have done much more than the previous administrations but we are working together because we have been part of the system for years. We know what the problems are and how the conditions were when we took over. We have continued to buy nets for fishing boats for women in shipping. You know that we are not a profit making association so we rely on people to sponsor our pet projects to empower women in the Logistics and Transport industry. We want to continue to empower the women in the fishing industry. We have been to Oron in Akwa Ibom State, Epe in Lagos State, Aguleri in Enugu State, etc. The major impediment for us at WISTA is the paucity of funds. Meanwhile, we have actively been encouraging women in the industry via networking. We also make sure we offer help or assistance to our members when we can and we also sponsor some of our members that want to study in the maritime university or even those who needed jobs.
As President of WISTA, what are the key things you would love to achieve before you leave office?
My target is to get more women into the shipping industry to create an awareness of the potentials available in the shipping industry. This isn’t something that we should leave to the men alone. I want this consciousness to be in the minds of young women so that a woman could be found in several aspects of shipping business. We have women that can function in several capacities including in top managerial positions in government. We have the quality and number of women that would be successful in all these things because we train and retrain ourselves. We are professionals and I can boldly say that WISTA Nigeria can supply the Federal Government with women who can perform optimally at any maritime related position. Try us and see what we can do?
Have you ever had challenges with the men as you go about your jobs? How have you been able to manage it?
I have challenges with men every day. You can be their superior because you graduated before them and you know the job but they would always want to tell you that you are a woman so you can’t do the job. Every day, I make up my mind to prove to the men that I can do it better. This means I have to be up-to-date with the developments in my job specification. I put measures in place to ensure that I get the results before the men in the office.
By Kenneth Jukpor