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Minister commits herself to Tin Can, Apapa ports rehabilitation

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THE Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, has decried the infrastructure decay at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, and expressed her commitment to fixing it.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had once raised an alarm that theTin Can Island port was on the verge of collapse.

Saraki, who had visited both ports earlier in the week, told maritime  journalists at an interactive session held today at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, that the seaports were in a precarious situation, noting specifically that “Apapa port is not okay.”

The minister said, “Fixing of the port is a given. Its state is unacceptable and we have to do something about it. We are taking stock and we will be back to implement solutions that are immediate, short, medium and long term.”

She also mentioned electrification of the ports as another important issue deserving attention.

She explained to the journalists that the essence of her one-week visit to the Lagos ports was to create an enabling sector for maritime stakeholders, adding that government had no reason to be competing in business with the private sector.

Minister Saraki
Gbemisola Saraki at the meeting with journalists. Credit: Joseph Olaoluwa_The_ICIR

Explaining why the National Transport Commission Bill was not initially signed, she reminded the audience that she introduced the bill in 2009 and made efforts to get the presidential assent after it had been passed by the National Assembly, but President Muhammadu Buhari could not sign it due to some issues. Instead, the president sent it back to the Senate for some grey parts of it to be ironed out.

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“The National Transport Commission bill is at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) level. We were meant to have another meeting on it. It should be passed within the next one month,” she assured.

Saraki also pushed for Nigeria to be recognized as a seafaring nation in the world. She cited the Philippines as the country to beat in terms of seafaring, adding that a lot of dollars can be realised from that area.

She urged the sector to utilise its population strength to place Nigerian crew on the map.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, at the event, touched on the agency’s partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow vessel owners pay zero duty on the importation of ships into the country.

Jamoh noted that the newer the ship, the lesser the duty on it.

He explained that the partnership with the CBN covered spare parts that could be gotten at the official CBN exchange rate of N411 per dollar, to cushion inflationary and stock exchange effects.

Responding to questions on the N50 billion abandoned floating dock, the NIMASA chief said that the dock was not idle and would be subjected to a public-private partnership to make the most gains of the facility.

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Experienced Business reporter seeking the truth and upholding justice. Covered capital markets, aviation, maritime, road and rail, as well as economy. Email tips to jolaoluwa@icirnigeria.org. Follow on Twitter @theminentmuyiwa and on Instagram @Hollumuyiwah.

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