The Federal Government of Nigeria is presently hosting a 2-day Sub-Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committee Meeting of the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC).
The meeting with the theme: “Port Concession in West and Central Africa: Impact on Economies of Member States”, is being held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Hon. Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi in a keynote address on Tuesday, urged the participants to thoroughly examine and evaluate the performance and impact of port concessions on the economies of the sub-region, implementation of World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)/Issues relating to port operations as well as Sea-link project which are key to the effective realization of the sub-regional’s maritime goals.
Amaechi further called on the participants to look at the issues of great importance that would be raised at the workshop with a view to advising governments of the member States on appropriate regulations and policy to realising the laudable goals of the sub-regional Maritime industry.
The Minister disclosed that the Federal Government of Nigeria has made remarkable progress in the development of trade support infrastructure such as railways, roads as well as the establishment of Inland Dry Ports and Truck Transit Parks in several locations across Nigeria in order to bring shipping closer to service users in the hinterland.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2018 commissioned Kaduna Inland Dry Port as Port of Origin and Destination and is now operational, stressing that Shippers in the North-West Geopolitical Zone are already using it for their trade needs.
He called on landlocked Countries to take advantage of the Kaduna Dry Port which is targeted at providing services to them, for the carriage of transit goods through Nigerian Seaports.
Amaechi stressed that high freight rates, arbitrary imposition of surcharges remain key issues which amount to trade barrier hindering the development of international trade in West and Central Africa. He noted that it requires collective responsibility to proffer lasting solutions to tackling these arbitrary and unjustifiable costs.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, stated that the workshop marks an important milestone for the Union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC) in the pursuit of effective and efficient trade and transportation for sustainable economic development in the sub-region.
The Chairman emphasized that the UASC Joint Committee Meeting at the workshop would be a veritable platform for developing strategies for the negotiation of freight rates and other conditions of shipment of goods carried by sea.
He enjoined participants to arrive at far-reaching resolutions that will be adopted on how to enhance efficiency at ports and maximise full benefits of port concession by taking advantage of the enormous potentials of the regional maritime industry.