Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Thursday, said the investments and reforms in the maritime sector have begun to yield good results with neighbouring countries using Nigeria seaports for their cargo transshipments and general imports.
Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, made the disclosure at the second Abuja Transport and Aviation Correspondents Association (ATACA) in Abuja.
Bello, while delivering a paper titled: ‘Economic Regulation, Panacea To The Challenges of Maritime Development’, said efficient transportation system remains the pivot on which economic prosperity revolves.
According to him, poor transportation infrastructure often results in skirmish between entities as they compete for insufficient resources in the sector.
He said the government, while tackling impediments to efficient transport system, will soon unveil a comprehensive tariff regime all in a bid to make Nigeria the preferred destination for Shippers in West Africa.
Said he, “Aside road issues which we are fixing, we’re making progress. We’re winning cargoes back.
“Tonnage will be high this year. We’re now having dry ports, seaports and airports. We’re working with the Ministry of Transportation and other agencies to have locomotives for Kaduna dry port.
“The document comprehensive tariff regime is almost ready. We’re currently getting stakeholders inputs to ensure everyone is carried along”.
The NSC boss said Nigeria needs intermodal transport system where rail links to roads, seaports and airports as it is the case in developed climes.
Bello, however, said there is always a need to have a strong regulator in the industry to guarantee a level playing field for all players.
“We need to regulate the industry to ensure a level playing field, achieve equilibrium and standards.
“That’s what NSC is doing in the maritime sector. We’re here to avoid monopoly, distortion of the market and other unwholesome practices.
“Regulation speaks to pricing of cargo handling, port dues and charges, etc. When the ports were concessioned, there was no regulator for eight years and the concessionaires were so happy and it led to several issues. There were arbitrariness, scathing pricing, etc.
“Again, the regulatory law must be unambiguous. There should be no over regulation. We’ve intervened on illegal charges, damage to cargo, etc
“Government agencies must be accountable and that that is what PEBEC seeks to harmonise.
NSC seeks to make Nigerian Ports the preferred destination.
“We’re also looking at National Transport Commission bill and it’s multi-sector initiative that will encompass all modes of transportation “, Bello explained.
Earlier, in his remarks, Chairman of the occasion and acting Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Chidi Izuwa, said transportation infrastructure remains key to the development of the country.
In the words of Izuwa, “A developed nation is where the rich use public transportation not where the poor have cars.
“Transportation infrastructure brings about catalytic economic development. It creates economic corridors and boosts development.
“Cost of transportation key to competitiveness and that it is why we need to open several transport systems.
“One percent increase in infrastructure stock results in one percent growth in GDP”, Izuwa explained.