Nigerian Water Channels Can Accommodate Bigger Vessels, Says NPA Official

Dr Pat Asadu, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Marine Transport, has urged stakeholders in the maritime sector to exploit the opportunities in the industry.

Asadu, who made the call in an interview in Lagos on Monday, stated that the sector has the capacity to generate huge income for the Federal Government.

It is obvious that this country can only go forward. We may have our challenges but we have enough on the ground; we have enough in terms of manpower, we have enough in terms of resources.

But, we are looking at a sector that because of cheap oil money we abandon our maritime sector.

‘’Fortunately, we have institutions that have started developing capacity like the Shippers Council; like the concessioning of the ports, with the port reforms.

‘’It positions us in such a way that with little which this committee is going to put in, which the House of Reps is going to put in, which the Senate in going to put in, which the present government is going to put in, we would get Nigeria earning as much if not more than what we are earning from oil.

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‘’This meeting has been very revealing. Has shown us that we need to work; the parliament, the Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Inland Waterways, the NIMASA.

Everybody in that sector; the transport sector must seat up and know that gone are the days of cheap oil money.

‘’These are the days of looking inwards and inwards is already there’’.

He said that the house committee would soon organise a stakeholders’ meeting to enable them to rub minds and identify the challenges of the sector.

‘’Now the economic regulator which the Shippers’ Council assumes this role, will come and define who must do what and put time lines and say in the next six months, in the next one year, if we are not able to take our containers, instead of loading from Apapa.

‘’We are taking them straight to Port-Harcourt; we are taking them to Enugu through Onitsha port; we are taking them to the North through Lokoja port or Baro port or we are taking them through Oguta port or Burutu port.

‘’There is so much in this country. We are talking of a system that services about 28 out of 36 states, without putting in any kobo.

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‘’All we need to do is to put flag barges and this congestion in Apapa is gone.

I will not go and make promises but let’s watch. When we come back for oversight next year, hold us to say this is where we are, where are you now?

So you must also benchmark to know what is going on in the maritime sector today. To know what the Shippers’ Council is able to achieve.

‘’We have no option actually because if we do not get it right out future is totally endangered.’’

Asadu, however, urged all government agencies in the maritime sector to under the Ministry of Transport to collaborate and assist the maritime industry to thrive.