Reps hail port concession, pledge to develop maritime sector as alternative to oil

The House of Representative Committee on Marine, Ports and Harbours has assured of its commitment towards building a platform that will advance the potentials of the maritime sector.

Chairman of the committee, Pat Asadu gave the assurance yesterday when he led other members of the committee on a familiarization visit to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) headquarters in Lagos.

He said the sector if well positioned, has the potential to boost the nation’s economy and compete favourably with other advanced maritime nations.

He stated that because of much emphasis placed on oil revenue, the maritime sector had been abandoned but assured that the committee will work hard and put in effort to ensure that the economy is diversify to enable it generate maximum revenue from the sector.

He said. “From what we saw yesterday (Monday) in the port and what we have seen today (yesterday), it is obvious that this country can only move forward. We may have our challenges but we have enough on ground in terms of manpower and resources to push this country to where Singapore is operating.

“Because of cheap oil money, we abandoned our maritime sector. Fortunately, we have institutions that have started developing capacity like Shippers’ Council and the concessioning of the port. So with little that this committee, the Senate and the present government is going to put in, we can get Nigeria earn as much; if not more than what we are earning from oil.”

He acknowledged that the port reform exercise has brought a lot of efficiency in port operations despite identified challenges which he said would be looked into at a stakeholders meeting that will be held at a later date.

“Before the port concessioning in 2006, the sector was more or less an all comers game. Now we have gotten the terminal operators and the concession agreement in place. A few things has not been done the way it should be but as a committee, we are looking at a stakeholders meeting which we all will be part of where the identified lapses both on the side of the government and the operators would be addressed,” he said.

He said the purpose of the visit was to see what the council did with the money appropriated to it last year and what will be appropriated for it this year.

Earlier, Executive Secretary of the NSC, Hassan Bello said there is no better time than now to position the sector as an alternative to the country’s source of revenue.

He identified inconsistent government policies and inadequate support from government as some of the challenges faced by the council.

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