…Commits to building trans-shipment hub, channel management
The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo has said that he had instructed the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA not to allow movement of cargo by road from the Lekki deep seaport to the hinterland when the port eventually comes on stream by next year.
The Minister who disclosed this in an address he delivered at the MARAN at 34 anniversary and Awards organized by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN in Lagos last night observed that allowing movement of cargo by road from the Lekki deep seaport would amount to replicating the Apapa experience in the Lekki – Epe axis of the state.
He maintained that alternatively, barging should be encouraged as a means of evacuating cargo from the port which in turn would generate a lot of jobs for people fabricating the barges locally and at the same time build capacity for Nigerians.
His words, “Lekki Deep Seaport, I have told them I don’t want them to move goods to that port or from that port by road. There’s no reason why we should have another Apapa at Lekki -Epe axis. I will not accept it. I have told NPA that. So, to start with, we must do barging, let us do barge operation, that will generate a lot of jobs for people who construct barges and so on and at the same time, build capacity for our people.”
Speaking on movement of cargo by rail, Engr. Sambo disclosed that he visited the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) recently, specifically to appeal to him to help in removing the scanning room in Apapa which he said was causing obstruction to rail connection into Apapa port.
“And the reason he gave me was that we were supposed to have made payment to decontaminate the place and then, after sometimes, they will come and remove the pavements. I came back to the Ministry and made inquiries and I was told that the Ministry have made that payment a long time ago. So, my intention is to go back with evidence to show the CG that we have made the payment a long time ago and there is no reason that building should still be standing because I don’t understand why and how it should take an age to remove that building.
“I am also happy to have noted that during my visit to the CG, he told me that one of the issues that they have is that they have scanners at the ports but those scanners were not commissioned. Only a week or two ago, I think the Minister of Finance went to commission them. So, when I go back to him next week, I will say to him, now that the scanners have been commissioned, I hope that we are going to see a lot of improvement with the clearing process.
“Talking about the clearing process and the ease of doing business in our ports, one of the things that I am also pursuing is the port community system. That is the surest way of taking our cargoes out of our ports within a matter of hours. If most other African countries have port community system working, why can’t we have it in Nigeria?
“I want to appeal to our maritime reporters, whenever you convene an event like this, make sure that the customs are always represented by all means, even if you have to drag them by long rope”, he said.
While recalling how much it pained him while working with the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA to see that the inland waterways transportation mode was never developed, the Minister, however assured that now that he’s on the driving seat, he had already marshaled out two projects which were so close to his heart as the Minister of Transportation namely: to create trans-shipment hub at the Marina and channel management.
“That is the one that is supposed to serve as a hub from Marina. When the ships come into harbour, they do trans-shipment into barges or specialized vessels that can travel over a maximum two to three meters draught all through the inter-coastal routes to Warri and to Onitsha.
“The other one is channel management, the company, the Chinese investors that that are willing and have the capacity to manage the channel. I have told my people in the Ministry that if I don’t have these two projects off the ground, people are going to cry, I will make examples with some people if these two projects don’t take off by next year.
“So, when we combine the alternatives, then we can now tell haulage people that you can no longer take petroleum products by road, you can no longer take construction materials by road, you can no longer take cement by road so that our roads will even last longer.
On the Deep Blue project, the Minister posited that the project was responsible for protecting Nigeria’s maritime domain adding that for more than one year that the President, Muhammadu Buhari came to launch this project in Lagos, “we have not heard any reported case of piracy in our maritime domain.”
“I think that is an achievement in the sense that in the next one year or two, if we are able to convince the IMO and the Lloyds of this world, then our insurance cost for imported goods into Nigeria will be much lower because right now, they pay what is called war risk insurance”, he added.
Photo: L-R: Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh; Ambassador Mustapha Aliu; Honorable Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo; and former Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello at MARAN 34th Anniversary and Awards held in Lagos Friday.
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