Transport Ministry is broke; cancels World Maritime Day celebration

These are not the best of times for the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) and its various parastatals as the Ministry is struggling to meet its financial obligations.

The cash-strapped FMOT, after postponing this year’s World Maritime Day celebration three times in two weeks, was eventually forced to cancel the celebration all together.

The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country but it is always on the last week of September.

The theme for this year’s World Maritime Day was “Maritime education and training”.

The Federal Ministry of Transport, which usually coordinates the World Maritime Day celebration in Nigeria, had earlier scheduled the event to hold on 24thSeptember but when it could not raise enough funds, it was forced to shift it to 6th October and then to 16th October (Friday last week). But by Tuesday, the Ministry was still unable to raise funds for the event, scheduled to hold at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos and was forced to cancel it.

The Director, Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Transport, Mrs. Yetunde Sonaike, in an SMS sent to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY said, “The World Maritime Day celebration has been postponed for now.”

However, unofficial sources said the event may no longer hold this year.

It is the first time that Nigeria would miss out of the World Maritime Day Celebration.

A staff at the Ministry said the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which commenced on September 15, is responsible for the lack of funds in the Ministry and its agencies.

“The Ministry usually raises fund for such event from the parastatals including Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) but the TSA implementation has mopped up all our funds hence the inability to raise money this time,” a staff at NIMASA told  SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

The situation is so bad at the maritime agencies such that the September salaries of NPA staff were not paid until last week.

“This has never happened before since I joined NPA. Our salary has never been delayed before. This is the first time ever,” an NPA staff told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

The workers who spoke with our correspondent did so under the condition of anonymity as they were not authorised by their organisations to do so.

SHIPS & PORTS DAILY reported in its edition of October 5, 2015 that the TSA implementation has practically grounded the activities of the various maritime agencies with some top management staff and stakeholders calling for their exemption from its implementation.

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