The Minister of State for Transportation, Mrs Gbemisola Saraki, has reiterated the need to fix the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway to boost businesses and generate more revenue at the Lagos ports.
Saraki said this during the Second Phase of 2020 Ministerial Retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Lagos on Thursday.
She said that there was need to provide infrastructural base ‘in and out of the port system’ and human capital and manpower development.
“There is urgent need to fix the road to boost businesses at the port and generate more revenue to revitalise the economy.
“The Call-Up system that was recently put in place has literally collapsed either due to corrupt practices or lack of enforcement by security agents.
“We need to strengthen the institutional capabilities of maritime agencies to position the country as a hub of maritime activities in West and Central Africa to boost the economy,” Saraki said.
She said that the maritime sector being a special sector needed efficient and well-trained professionals to ensure effective operation.
Saraki said that the employment opportunities available in the maritime sector had not been well harnessed by Nigeria.
She said that since the last retreat which took place in Akwa-Ibom, the maritime sector had made tremendous achievements inspite of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Saraki said that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Bill into law after the first Ministerial Retreat.
She further said that there was a need to remove things causing delay in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF).
“This will help assist the local shipowners to grow and contribute to the economy,” she said.
The minister said that maritime trade alone could service the nation’s annual budget, if properly harnessed.
She said that the country was lagging behind in the committee of nations when it comes to ship ownership and shipping business.
She added that the country was yet to take full advantage and harness the enormous potential of blue economy and its opportunities for foreign exchange.
Saraki said that the National Inland Waterways Authority should focus on enhancing the waterways for a sustainable coastal trade.
She urged the transport agencies to double their efforts in having a validated and approved legal framework such as the National Transport Policy, Maritime Policy and Urban Policy to serve as blueprint for their operations.
Saraki also urged Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure a speedy and timely provision of sea-time experience for the trained cadets.
She emphasised that workers in the maritime sector were properly trained and well motivated.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, said the retreat was designed to provide a veritable platform for top management officials to deliberate on how to galvanize the Transportation Sector to meet the set goals and objectives.
“The first phase of this Retreat held in August 2019, highlighted achievable plans, initiatives and strategies expected to reposition the maritime subsector and the transportation sector as a whole for improved productivity and better performance.
“This Retreat will therefore avail us the opportunity to appraise and take stock of our achievements, identify our constraints, challenges and readjust our strategic plans with a view to enhancing our future performance.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that transportation is one of the critical factors of development at the heart of economic growth and prosperity of any nation.
“In a bid to reposition the Nigerian transportation sector for better performance and enhanced productivity, the ministry embarked on implementation of integrated multi-modal transportation system.
“The revitalization of policy initiatives and programmes, which are in sync with the nation’s economic development agenda and the National Integrated Infrastructure Master plan,” Ajani said.
She said that there was an opportunity for Nigeria to leverage its geographical position, its large domestic market and industrial capacity to become the transportation hub for Africa and the world as a whole.
She urged participants to use the opportunity to surpass the various deliverables and targets set up by the current Administration for its performance appraisal.
Ajani said that the present administration appraisal was related to the Medium-Term National Development Plan (2021 – 2025) and the Nigeria Agenda 2050 Plan.