Inauguration: Expert tasks President Tinubu on establishing Maritime Ministry

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A  Maritime expert, Rev. Jonathan Nicole has urged President Bola Tinubu to pay more attention to the maritime sector by establishing a Ministry of Maritime from the Ministry of Transportation. Nicole, a former president of the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) told the ministry of transportation in Lagos on Monday was overwhelmed with the maritime sector challenges and developments.

Tinubu was on May 29, inaugurated as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to Nicole, the ministry of transportation should be broken into two. Maritime sector needs a ministry of maritime. It is too huge for the transport ministry to manage.

He noted that the sector would have achieved more and added to the Gross Domestic Product of the country if it was not ignored.

He added that the sector had not fared well in the past eight years, as adequate attention was not given to it, urging the Tinubu administration to focus on bringing in professionals in the sector but not for political compensation.

”On the way forward, all those involved in the management of the maritime sector, past or present, should not feature in the new dispensation. With the correct motive by government, the right power and personal will emerge to bring the required changes in the maritime sector,” he said.

He said the maritime sector did not contribute to the huge debt in the country, neither was there any spectacular investment involved to upgrade the sector. He cited an instance with the aprons at the Tin Can Island Port which was collapsing, adding that the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority cried out but nothing had been done until lately, the last part of the past administration.

Nicole pointed out that unfortunately, the maritime sector faced neglect and abandonment in the past eight years, with the exception of Port Manual which had a marginal result of reducing vessels waiting time.

“The maritime sector is gradually tilting to para-military environment, as the controlling agency which is supposed to assist government in trade policy has become financier of a task force backed by various government security agencies. The trading is scared of intimidation. The Standard Operating Practice (SOP) is incomplete. Shipping lines and terminal operators are omitted. It’s like it was designed for the freight forwarders without any simplified method on process of movement of documents. Nothing has changed in that area. The SOP should be withdrawn and looked into for improvement,” he said.

He noted that Nigeria was not in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) membership, adding that things should be in order in our ports for that to come to pass.

“All the ports in Nigeria should be functional in their own rights, Warri Ports especially, Burutu and Focardos.,” he said.

NAN / Foluke Ibitomi

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