The Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, has expressed the Federal Government’s determination to implement the national maritime transport policy, saying that the absence of an all-encompassing policy at the national level to holistically address the challenges plaguing the maritime sector was responsible for its poor performance over the years.
Saraki, stated this in Lagos on Thursday at a stakeholders validation forum on the draft national maritime transport policy organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT).
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, FMOT, Magdalene Ajani, Saraki noted that while opportunities to enhance the contributions made by the maritime sector to sustainable development in the country abounds, the economic potential of the resources is largely underutilized, weakly regulated and relatively unharnessed due to lack of a national maritime transport policy.
Saraki, however, assured that the Ministry was committed to securing the Federal Executive Council’s approval and putting all necessary machineries in place with a view to fast-tracking the implementation of the national maritime transport policy in the country.
She said, “In the maritime industry in Nigeria, we do not have a national policy document on which our activities are regulated, so the need to have this as a document that we can use to operationalise our activities and regulate the activities in the maritime industry is something that is quite important to us.
“It is instructive to note that the performance of the sector is further constrained by the challenges posed by insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, bureaucracy, weak laws, corrupt practices, inadequate capital for investment and maintenance of ships, poor incentives for investors, lack of indigenous carrier vessels, sea unworthiness of indigenous vessels where they are available, poor integrated water transport systems; among others.
“While acknowledging the existence of a number of strategies and associated policies relevant to the governance of the nation’s maritime environment, there is no all-encompassing policy at the national level to holistically address the afore-mentioned challenges in the maritime sector.
“This informed the need for the current administration and the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to embark on developing an all-encompassing and all-inclusive national maritime transport policy that will stand the test of time and foster a robust maritime industry that will guarantee sustainable socioeconomic development of the country.
“This has been under work for seven years but now it has become a huge priority for both the ministry and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. We hope that with the buy-in of stakeholders in the Western Zone and with a similar stakeholders’ meeting in the Eastern Zone by the end of February, we should be coming up with a clean document before the end of first quarter of 2021.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman, National Maritime Transport Policy, Paul Adalikwu, said it is impossible to administer the maritime sector successfully without a policy document that contains genuine, reliable and updated data “that can serve the times and seasons that we are in and even generations to come”.