By Afolabi Oyekunle.
Nigeria’s chances of becoming a maritime hub in West and Central Africa will be determined by provision of adequate port infrastructure that meets international standard for efficient operations in the country.
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime stated this while speaking at the breakfast meeting organized by Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), in Lagos.
His words: “Unless we focus on the development of our infrastructure and make them of international standards, we will not achieve our objective of being a maritime hub.”
The NSC boss also noted that the current mode of cargo evacuation in Nigeria focuses primarily on the road network, opining that this was not the sustainable way of delivering port services in other parts of the world.
“The inland waterways and rail linkages are the significant parts of port operations that should come together for the nation to achieve the ultimate objective of ranking as a premium, proper maritime nation,’’ he said.
Jime equally added that Nigeria also needed to strengthen its weak regulatory framework at the ports to make the country’s ports more attractive to global trade.
The NSC Executive Secretary, who is also a lawyer, administered the oath of office to the 9-man newly elected MARAN executives led by Mr Godfrey Bivbere as President.
While inaugurating the new executives, Hon Jime thanked the foremost maritime reporters body for the warm reception accorded him when he was appointed to head the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, and the cordial working relationship they have maintained with him ever since.
He also praised MARAN for taking the initiative to host a breakfast meeting on the deplorable state of infrastructure at Tin Can Island Port, which according to him has brought about a robust discourse aimed at proffering solutions to the issue.
The NSC boss, however, pledged to collaborate with the association in their efforts to finding lasting solutions to the myriads of issues bedeviling the sector, even as he called on the leadership of the association to make him an integral part of their planning for programmes as it makes his work easier as the nation’s Port Economic Regulator.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, who was represented by the General Manager, MD’s Office, Mr Ayodele Durowaiye reassured that NPA will maintain its close affinity with MARAN as the foremost maritime beat association.
He maintained that the Authority holds MARAN in high esteem and would continue to partner with the body, especially on programmes aimed at improving port operations in the country.