The new minister has a lot on ground. There are a lot of paper work and recommendation for him to work on. For example, in the shipping aspect, there is need for him to ensure that we are able to carry our crude oil ourselves instead of foreign ships carrying our crude oil. He has to make provisions for us to have enough ships and also in the area of building capacity. There is also need for us to diversify instead of everybody moving their containers by road, why can’t we move them by barges or using the rail. If the rails are working fine, we would not be having all this problems. The location of the tank farms in Apapa is another problem which has affected movement into and out of Apapa. So the minister has a lot on his hands.
Capt. Adewale Ishola
He has to take a look at the port access road. The government generates billons of naira from the ports but it is not paying any attention to the deplorable condition of the access roads. Although the issue of the auto policy is not within the jurisdiction of his ministry but believe he can team up with the finance minister to look at the auto policy. We also expect that he ensures that the cabotage law is implemented and the rehabilitation of the rail system to evacuate cargoes from the ports as well as ensuring that Information Communication Technology (ICT) is made to work in areas where it has not been keyed. I think that will go a long way in giving us a less stressful port environment to work on.
We all appreciate the fact that his appointment came with a lot of controversy and he is aware of this but I believe he will surprise the people that opposed to his appointment as a minister. The major problem we have in the industry is that government don’t carry stakeholders along in policy formations. There are so many problems he will need to look into one of which is the roads. The government is making billions from the ports yet it is difficult for the government to fit the roads. It is also expected that he looks into why the cost of doing business at our ports still remains the highest all over the world because we can’t continue to suffer. So he will need to synergize with the stakeholders because we are the ones wearing the shoe and we know where it hurts because if he goes to the government agencies, they will never tell him the truth because they are the beneficiaries of all these challenges we are facing today. The challenges are enormous so also are the expectations but we hope that he will be able to face all these problems headlong and if he must achieve results, he must synergise with key stakeholders.
If you look at what has been happening in the industry for the past five months, even before the elections, the industry has been at its lowest ebb even the operations around the port has always been problematic. So it expected that the minister will look into this area and more importantly access to the port because unfortunately, it is like the major ports in the country have this problem of accessibility. We are not talking of only Apapa and Tin Can but even the Eastern ports at Onne, the roads leading to these ports are in deplorable condition. They are hampering the movement of the industry and they are doing a lot of harm to the economy of the country because it has shot up the cost of doing business at the port and invariably, it has affected the services being rendered by operators in the industry. So it is expected that the minister looks at this and also address the high cost of doing business at our ports. Concerning the operation of the freight forwarders, we expect the minister to look into the plight of these agents because they are making a lot of sacrifice to help government generate revenue, so there is need for government to also find a way of helping them at least in terms of skill acquisition and capacity development and we also urge the minister to look into the crisis rocking the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to enable it carry out its mandate of sanitizing the industry.
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