The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, yesterday declared open the 4th Nigeria Maritime Expo tagged NIMAREX 2014.
The Minister, who declared the expo open on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, said government was fully committed to the growth and development of the Nigerian Maritime industry.
While commending the efforts of the NIMAREX Planning Committee for supporting government’s transformation agenda, he invited private investors to take advantage of the conducive environment provided by the Federal Government to invest in the maritime industry.
“You would recall that, a number of measures have been put in place over the last two years by Government aimed at enhancing the operational efficiency in the various ports.
“For instance 24 hours operation has been achieved in the Lagos Ports where more than 60% of our port activities take place. These efforts are continuous and involve all Stakeholders which require constant monitoring and evaluation.
“For the long term, the Federal Government is making concerted efforts towards ensuring the development of Deep Sea Ports in the Country. This is the ultimate solution to the current port congestion as the cargo handling are presently beyond their designed capacities,” the Minister stated.
He said the Federal Executive Council has approved the Development of the Lekki Deep Sea Port which is expected to handle bigger vessels, and also create employment under Public Private Partnership (PPP) Initiative.
“Very soon, the Ground-Breaking for the Construction of the Port will be performed. On the Ibaka Deep Sea Port in Akwa Ibom State, the Steering and Project Delivery Committee that was constituted last year has submitted its Draft Report and the Transaction Adviser has produced initial Due Diligence Report as well as the Outline Business Case (OBC).
“Furthermore, I also wish to state that discussions are in progress between the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority on one side, the Lagos State Government and some Investors to develop the Badagary Deep Sea Port. Efforts are also being made to initiate similar arrangements with the Ogun and Ondo State Governments and some Investors to develop the Olokola Deep Sea Port. In addition, the Contract for the Consultancy Services for the Establishment of a Port at Ogidigbe, near Escravos, as part of the Gas Industrial Park with Free Zone status, which is expected to be the Hub for Gas Revolution initiative of the Federal Government is awaiting Federal Executive Council consideration and approval. It is worthy to mention that a preliminary joint inspection has been carried out by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Bayelsa State Government for the Development of Agge Deep Sea Port in the State. Already, the State Government has commissioned a reputable Consultant, who has carried out extensive studies for the Development of the Port,” he said.
NIMAREX Planning Committee Chairman, Barrister (Mrs.) Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi in her welcome address at the three-day event, said that the expo was created to open up the maritime industry and showcase the shipping sector to the rest of the world.