Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi

– Buhari, Dogara, endorse shippers council as port regulator

– Battle for the soul of Maritime Industry begins

The Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has said that one of the challenges of restructuring the maritime industry is that a lot of power brokers in the country, who have stakes in the sector, protect their interest always and have unfettered access to President, Muhammed Buhari

Speaking in a closed door chat with some of his friends, in his office last week, Amaechi stated that if Buhari was a flippant president, the nation would have been awash with the news of different stories of selfish interest and greedy suggestions tabled before him.

MMS Plus findings have revealed that virtually all the former Presidents and Heads of States are stakeholders in the maritime Industry. ”Usually, what they do is that they call the president that  they would like to see him for important state matter and when they get there, they will discuss their interest in the sector as it affects them”, a source divulged.

Currently, MMS Plus findings can reveal that there is a major battle among the power brokers and Amaechi over the soul of the industry in the areas of trade facilitation and Security.

Amaechi equally made a veiled reference to the former Head of Interim National Government of Nigeria, Chief Ernest Shonekan’s Company, AP Moller Terminals (APMT) Apapa’s role in the lingering problem of ports regulations when he stated, “let us see how far their point- man can take them on this issue of government not having powers to regulate them.”

Chief Shonekan has been the Chairman of APMT and has led the Maersk line group, which is the parent company of APMT to the presidency on too many occasions.

Meanwhile, delivering a keynote address, at the 14th International Maritime Seminar for Judges last week in Abuja, Amaechi said that the Federal Ministry of Transport would give the Nigerian Shippers’ Council all the needed administrative backing to perform the port economic regulatory role in the Maritime sector.

In the same vein, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, represented by the Minority Leader in the House, Hon. Leo Ogor, also threw his support behind NSC as the port economic regulator, saying they need support to perform maximally.

According to the Minister, ‘Worthy of mention here is the appointment of Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the Port Economic Regulator for Nigerian Ports. The absence of economic regulator has been noted to have some negative effect on the economic development of the Maritime Industry.

“The economic regulator is expected to ensure fair trade practices, provide guidelines on tariff setting, monitor and enforce standards of service delivery towards ensuring availability, affordability, stability, predictability and adequacy of services. All these are aimed at making Nigeria a hub for international trade in the West and Central Africa sub-region. To ensure effective discharge of this responsibility, the Federal Ministry of Transport is ready to provide full administrative backing that will enable the NSC discharge this function in line with the federal government directives’. He added.

He noted that the maritime industry needs capacity building, while it is the general knowledge that most of our maritime trade is carried out by foreign ship owners thereby limiting the economic benefits accruable to the nation such as creation of jobs, freight and insurance earnings, etc. It is in this regard that the development of a national fleet becomes imperative.

According to him, President Buhari’s government is looking into ways to encourage the establishment of a national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potentials in the maritime industry.

Amaechi called for the introduction of maritime law in Institutions of higher learnings in the country as a compulsory course of study and urged the NSC to work with the relevant authorities to actualize the policy objective.

Represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Taiwo Abidogun, President Buhari said that his government was determined to introduce far reaching reforms in the maritime sector, saying ‘one of the planks of the reform is the appointment of an economic regulator of the ports to enhance the efficiency, competitiveness and economic viability of the sector.

“May I also call on the economic regulator to come up with viable blue print for achieving maximum exploitation of the economic potentials of the maritime industry.” Buhari added.

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