Senate considered 8 maritime bills in three years

Bukola Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki

Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber said it has so far considered eight maritime- related bills.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Ahmed Rufai Sani, made the disclosure in Lagos on Thursday at a maritime stakeholders meeting tagged ‘Lunch with the Senate’ organized by the committee in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation. 

He said out of the bills considered, some have been passed while others are awaiting presidential assent.

The bills include the Nigerian Ports Authority Act repeal and re-enactment) bill 2016, National Inland Waterways Act, CAPN47 repeal and re-enactment bill 2016, National Transport Commission bill 2016, Nigeria Coast Guards bill 2018, Suppression of Piracy bill 2017 and the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1958 and 1982 bill 2017.

Others are Maritime Security Operations Coordinating Board Act (amendment) bill 2018, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act (amendment) bill, 2018, Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act (amendment) bill 2018 and Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences bill 2018.

Sani said apart from the passage of the bills, which legislative process he noted is sometimes slow; the committee has also approved various budgets and passed resolutions geared towards the growth of the sector.

He said, “Often times, we hear that legislation is sometimes slow. This is not necessarily the case; the fact is that there is a process. For instance, for bills, it has to go through gazetting, first and second and third reading and a whole lot of bureaucratic processes including debate, public hearings, among others. They are all necessary steps fundamental to the functioning of the institution. They take a little time but should not been seen in any way as stumbling blocks.

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“We have not just been passing bills, we have approved budgets, engaged in interactions to assist the sector and passed resolutions and recommendations beneficiary to the sector.”

Sani, who commended the collaborative effort of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, said the committee within its three and a half year tenure has worked with policy makers and regulators for the benefit of the sector.

Speaking on the issue of maritime security, Sani disclosed that President Muhamadu Buhari has transmuted an Executive Bill seeking to suppress piracy and other maritime offences to the National Assembly for legislation.

He said the report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) on cases of pirates attack in the Gulf of Guinea is a cause for worry as it has increasingly led to high cost of freight as ship owners often demand high insurance premium.

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“Most recently, we saw the IMB statistics showing that one third of the global maritime piracy incidence recorded during a given period occurred in the Gulf of Guinea. This is not just statistics; it has an effect on such indices as insurance war risk leading to higher freight tariffs,” Sani said. 

Representative of the Transportation Minister, Sani Dangalashi, commended the committee for giving prompt attention to the maritime bills.

He said the bills when passed and assented to by President Buhari will strengthen the legal and regulatory frame work that will not only create enabling environment for businesses in the maritime sector but will also create employment as well as enhance revenue generation for the country.

He appealed to the National Assembly to ensure that the bills come into fruition in no distance time.