…Sues for decentralization of ports
The immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has called for an open and transparent process in the design and construction of the Lekki Deep seaport to so as to allow contributions from critical stakeholders.
Bello who was reacting to his induction as grand patron by the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the National Association Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) during an event organized in Lagos by the association to celebrate his achievement in office in the last eight years stated that what was worrying the maritime industry was some of kind of closed society arguing that “we need an open society, nothing belong to any agency, it all belongs to the people and this idea of ownership, oh! I am the one doing that is killing us.”
He pointed out that when the Lekki Deep Sea port would be realized eventually, only then would Nigeria know and appreciate what the Minister of Transportation had been doing to this country in rail and port infrastructure noting that things would never be the same again for Nigeria.
“We have to have options to Apapa and Tincan Island. As far as I am concerned, they have tried but tired ports and they should be retired like me. So, we should open a new vista in Lekki Deep seaport but there must be contribution of every stakeholder to what is happening in Lekki. It is not a closed society, if you take a freight forwarder, he will just by looking at the cost implication offer advice. If you take a shipper, he will know if there are going to be double charges, how the transportation is going to be. So, Lekki Deep Seaport is a fundamental transformative agenda of the federal government and it will work very well.
“However, it must be open to comments by all segments of stakeholders so that we make it better so that the mistakes of Apapa and Tincan should not be repeated by any means. We need a modern port, a port that will define the ambition of this country, Nigeria. Once you create a port in Lekki and you have Ibom Deep seaport, all the other countries are shivering now because they know the implications of that and therefore, we must have the stakeholders’ engagement all the time so that we make improvement”, he stated.
The former NSC boss noted that while Nigerians were talking about restructuring, it should not only be political even as he insisted that restructuring should also be economic.
“I want local governments to own ports, the ports should not be owned by the federal government alone. Why won’t the Apapa local government own the Apapa port? Lekki, if there is a local government there, why wouldn’t they own the Lekki port? Why must it be the federal government? The federal government can come with its rules and regulatory orders after all aviation is supposed to be in the exclusive list but we have the Ibom Air and then, we have the Ibom Deep Sea port.
“So, restructuring is not only political, we should have tiers of government do things and the same thing with dry ports, same with so many things we have been doing in Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Nigerian Shippers’ Council is an institution that you all have to work with”, he said.
Harping on the need for a Port Community System where truckers, freight forwarders and indeed, all segments of the maritime stakeholders should interface, Hassan Bello informed that he was going to support the creation of the platform whether in or out of office insisting that it should be next on the agenda of the federal Government.
Photo: L-R: Founder of NAGAFF, Dr.Boniface Aniebonam, immediate past Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello and former Chairman, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni during the reception organized in honour of Barr. Hassan Bello by NAGAFF in Lagos yesterday.
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