The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has charged the newly inaugurated board members of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to improve on trade facilitation and seaport management in the country.

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This was contained in his speech at the inauguration of members of the board, Chaired by Chief Akin Ricketts on Thursday in Abuja.

Other members of the board include Mohammed Koko, Onari Brown, Sen. Binta Garba, Sen. John Udoidighe, Abdulwahab Adesina, Ghazali Moh’d, Mustapha Dutse and Prof. Idris Abubakar.

According to the Minister, “I just want to perform the official function of inaugurating the NPA board and to say that President Muhammadu Buhari after due consideration decided to appoint you into the board of the NPA.

Adding that “It is important you work with the management and realise that you are not management, you are a board and should work together with the management.

“For those who are not here, I hope the board chairman will ensure this inauguration covers them and also ensure that we are able to move forward on trade facilitation and seaport management.

“Let me on behalf of the President congratulate all of you for the appointment and wish you well.

Amaechi said the country is in an unusual time when it can’t afford to shut its seaport but continues its activities to ensure trade takes place and people are able to feed.

On behalf of the Ministry, he congratulated members of the NPA board while wishing them well in their future endeavours. While responding on behalf of members of the board, Chief Ricketts pledged their commitment towards the improvement of the operations of the Nigerian ports.

According to him, “On behalf of my colleagues on the board, I will like to assure Mr President, through you, the minister that we will do our utmost to ensure that his confidence in us is not misplaced and will not be abused.

“As a serious government on a national rescue mission, we assure you that we will immediately commence discharging our responsibility without hindrance.

“As an organisation that has been in existence since 1955, we are sure that NPA will have its share of challenges and issues that need to be resolved or needs immediate attention.

“We will do that in conjunction with the management and all relevant stakeholders.’’

The chairman said the board would ensure it gave every and any matter that came to its attention the consideration it deserved by dealing with it fairly and objectively without favours or ill will.

He assured that the board would not consider itself alternate management or be in competition with it but would collaborate to ensure the mission, vision and strategic objective of NPA were achieved.

Adding that “We will create an atmosphere where employees will be given the opportunity to air their views and express dissent on any policy or action they feel strongly about and we will ensure measures are put in place so that this process is not unduly abused.

“We will ensure that feedback mechanisms are in compliance from our major stakeholders and port owners so that we improve on service delivery, efficiency and capacity,’’ Ricketts said.

According to him, the major issues confronting our ports today are capacity utilisation and evacuation corridors.

The chairman said while the ports in the East were being grossly underutilised due to many factors, the efficiency of the ports in Lagos was hampered by inadequate evacuation corridors.

He noted that the resultant effect was congested road which ultimately hindered prompt service delivery.

According to Rickets, the board intends to confront this challenge head-on in conjunction with other stakeholders and management.

He added that this would be done with a view to ameliorating the sufferings of port users and ease business in the ports as envisaged by the Federal Government.

We want to thank Mr. President for giving us the opportunity to serve. He said.