Stakeholders from diverse background in the sector brainstorm to seek for realistic solutions to the problems of the ports and chart a workable course for the sector.
In his opening remark Mr. Peter Obi, the Former Governor of Anambra State said that the National Economic Management team, a decision making body is partnering with stakeholders in the Maritime sector to seek for solutions to the challenges facing it.
‘We are looking at the challenges we are facing in our various Ports around the country, and this committee is expected among things to carry out a holistic investigation into the challenges facing our ports. We realize that these challenges range from technical, operation and even human, so we want to be able to identify what these challenge are, what these bottlenecks are?’
Speaking through a representative, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, the Director of Economic Research and Port Management (ERPM) Mr. Obi added that “we as stakeholders will rub minds on how best we can deal with some of these challenges. We are bringing the users and the operators together to see how we can improve our ports to the world’s best practice, such that Nigeria ports will be among the reckoned in the world. We have visited the eastern Ports, we were in Port Harcourt, Warri and held a similar gathering, so many stakeholders spoke their mind. I know so many of you here are vast with port concerns but we all want you to proffer solutions. What do you think are these challenges? How do you think these challenges can be ameliorated? So, we are here to improve the lot of Nigerians and seek for ways to boost our economic potentials through the ports”
Also speaking at the event was Chief Remi Ogungbemi, the President of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) who lamented the unavailability of parking space for trucks and revealed that the places earmarked for parking spaces for trucks have been taken over by other businesses and as a result trucks now park on the road and this contributed to the traffic.
According to him ‘it is not in the interest of any truck owner or driver to park on the road, no, we are not happy about it, it is a risk on its own, it is because the original place earmarked as truck terminal has been taken away by other businesses’.
He advocated for a truck terminal to ease off the parking along side roads and a call-up system which will make for easier identification and smooth movements of trucks to and fro the ports.
Mrs. Dabney Shallhoma, the Director of Commercial Shipping, Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) summarized the entire deliberations into three factors ‘the technology that is supposed to drive the system, infrastructure on which the technology will function and the people who are the operators of the technology’.
She stated that the sector needed people with skills, expertise in the industry not just people who came because they needed a job.
‘We need people with skills, people who are competent, people who know the industry and who know how it is expected to function, not people who do not understand the industry and are simply there because jobs have brought them there. They must know what is going on and understand the import of what they are doing, people who understand the relevance of the Maritime industry economically to developing a nation and creating wealth’.
She further stated that the technology should be flexible and inter-operable to achieve international best practice in Port operation.