The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, has reiterated the need to fix the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway to boost businesses and generate more revenue at the Lagos ports.
Saraki said this during the Second Phase of 2020 Ministerial Retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Lagos on Thursday.
She said that there was a need to provide an infrastructural base in and out of the port system,as well as human capital and manpower development.
According to her, “There is an urgent need to fix the road to boost businesses at the port and generate more revenue to revitalise the economy.
“The Call-Up system that was recently put in place has literally collapsed, either due to corrupt practices or lack of enforcement by security agents.
“We need to strengthen the institutional capabilities of maritime agencies to position the country as a hub of maritime activities in West and Central Africa to boost the economy,” Saraki said.
She further said that the maritime sector being a special sector needed efficient and well-trained professionals to ensure effective operation, adding that the employment opportunities available in the maritime sector had not been well harnessed by Nigeria.
The Minister noted that since the last retreat which took place in Akwa-Ibom, the maritime sector had made tremendous achievements in spite of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Saraki stated also that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Bill into law after the first Ministerial Retreat, noting that there was a need to remove things causing delay in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF).
“This will help assist the local shipowners to grow and contribute to the economy,” she said
The minister said that maritime trade alone could service the nation’s annual budget, if properly harnessed, saying also that the country was lagging behind in the comity of nations when it comes to ship ownership and shipping business.
She added that the country was yet to take full advantage and harness the enormous potential of the blue economy and its opportunities for foreign exchange.
Saraki emphasized the need for the National Inland Waterways Authority to focus on enhancing the waterways for a sustainable coastal trade.
She urged the transport agencies to double their efforts in having a validated and approved legal framework such as the National Transport Policy, Maritime Policy and Urban Policy to serve as blueprint for their operations.
Saraki also urged Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure a speedy and timely provision of sea-time experience for the trained cadets, adding that workers in the maritime sector should be properly trained and well motivated.