Alhaji Umar Omeiza Jimoh is the Deputy President General (DPG) of the Senior Staff Association of Communication Transportation and Corporations (SSACTAC). In this interview with our correspondent, he suggests how the new MD of NPA can succeed in his new assignment, he also advises the government on where to beam its searchlight for the growth of the maritime industry, among other important issues. Read on.
What would you expect the new MD of NPA to start his assignment from?
The new MD is welcome on board and we all know that he is not new to the country. I believe he is ready to educate himself about maritime activities and compare notes with what is obtainable in other countries and what is obtainable before his tenure. We have a very big maritime industry in Nigeria where we have summersaulting policies of government overwhelming the growth of the industry. We also have situation where workers plight are being toiled with just like we have in the last two and a half years.
The new MD should not tow the line of past MD that agreement were reached and agreement were signed but were not respected by the management of NPA.
Former MD Abdusalam came and achieve because he respected workers agreement, Omar sulaiman achieved because he respected workers agreement he respected opinion and agreement.
We workers believed governance is continuum so also is MD ship of NPA. He should be reminded that the eagle that lay the golden egg must not be treated anyhow because if maltreated, the eagle may refuse to lay egg again.
Is it proper for government to choose a greenhorn as the MD of NPA and what could that amount to for the industry?
I have said that we should always put round peg in a round hole. I agree that government appoint and when you are not performing to their expectation they disappoint you again.
At this same NPA, we have seen a situation where a former bank manger was brought to NPA and he did well like the executive director, Finance and Account of NPA, Olumide Oduntan is also a good example doing wonderfully well, he has performed to an extent that the union are satisfied with him. We believe and hope that if MD duty is to ensure that we look at the books and examine the policy, priority and look at our obligation to the maritime industry around Nigeria, Africa and the world, I think he should be ready to learn.
What are your demands from the new MD for the members of SSACTAC?
We the workers’ representative want the MD to know that anything we do affect the industry and we will meet with him and speak to tell him our demand. We will meet with him to discuss the way forward.
We will tell him that if there is no maritime industry, he won’t be the managing director, the maritime industry achievement he met must be consolidated and he must ensure that we continue to grow and take our place in the maritime industry. We are leading in west Africa and we are suppose to be the leading giant in west Africa. That must be consolidated. We must take the lead and put our target at leading the world maritime industry. He should make himself the first MD to enshrine policy direction for the industry and he must carry all the stakeholders in the industry along, I didn’t ask him to cave in to any spurious demand but they should be carried along to make everything perfect and I assure you that productivity will be high.
The Nigerian workers in the maritime sector are ready to cooperate with him but their welfare must not be toiled with because those who toiled with it has nothing to show at the end of their tenure.
With the state of the maritime industry today, where do you expect the government of Buhari to quickly intervene?
First of all, we need a concise maritime policy inclusive of road and rail, infrastructure development. We must visit the reform to get things right because what affect other industry affect the maritime industry but a case where operators run on generating set won’t make them break even.
Lack of electricity at the port is also not healthy for visiting vessels who have to put off their plants in other to connect to the power grid of the country.
Also, we need to educate and train all stakeholders, we need to ensure that we have different mode complementing one another to avoid unnecessary and unwarranted choke up of the system which have been compounded by tank farms. Government must relocate the tank farms with immediate effect before they collapse the industry. If we have a transport policy that covers rail, it would employ a lot of Nigerians because rail accounted for the largest number of employment in the country.
But, government just announced the privatisation of the rail network
As a transporter, I will say we have a lot of rail infrastructures and terminals that are strategically located within some towns around the country but when we talk about rail line, it is not modern gauge but standard gauge. The government should make the rail efficient so that whenever I want to move it would be easier and also we can move both petroleum products and cargoes through the road.
The tankers and trailers are creating so much nuisance on the port access roads, they must be asked to move away from the port access roads. Cargoes and petroleum products should be delivered through the rail, government should refurbished and buy new wagons for these.
We have goods that should be evacuated by rail, we have dry ports and they should be connected by rail from the port. Consignment to the dry ports by rail and when you want to import and export you use the dry port.
This will enhance door to door delivery of cargoes and will create employment opportunities. If we have dry port in the east, it will assist if we have dry port in the north, it will help decongest the road because if my container is to go to Maiduguri and it gets to Kaduna, I think I can finish the rest by road and it has decongested the ever busy Lagos road. If we mean business in this country, we should revitalise the rail because what we have presently is a cosmetic approach.
Do you support privatisation of the rail system?
No, because privatisation will not work. what are we privatising? who is ready to build a rail line? Rail line is capital intensive, who will invest in terminals. It is the sole duty of the government to make this things available.
What we can privatise is the mobile unit, government should privatise the coaches and when they do that, they will get much money from it and we will not depend heavily on oil. A rail system for a big country like Nigeria to be in comatose is a misplaced priority.