A former Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello has expressed dismay over politisation of ports creation in the country.
Bello who gave the advice while speaking as a Special Guest at a programme tagged -National Discourse 2 with Distinguished Maritime Personalities (Damps) in Lagos, said Nigeria should not be building ports like constituency projects.
According to him, ports should not be built for ports sake but for their viability and ability to compete with other global ports in terms of infrastructure and linkage to the multimodal transport mode.
“The consignment that the port atracts makes it what it should be. It should have integration. We should not just build ports because we have water.
“Our ports must be efficient and must be competitive. You decide and have choices and design.”
Bello called on the federal government to provide requisite infrastructure for an efficient port but admonished that it should be left to the private sector to run for a desired goal.
“The government has a bigger role to play in shipping business of the nation but it should be led by the private sector.”
He blamed the stunted growth in maritime and transportation sector on interference by individuals who towers their selfish interests above national interests.
His words, “Ports and Harbour, Nigeria Transport Commission are parts of the port reforms. It is important that when reforms are on, there should not be pause. Reforms in the maritime industry are half done. You face a lot of personally interest above national interest, hinderances.
Convener of the Discourse, Kelvin Kagbare, expressed displeasure over the establishment of universities and institutions in maritime and transportation, investment in overseas training of young Nigerians, while neglecting capacity utilisation of the institutions already on ground but without ships or national line to absorb the cadets.
Kagbare fumed at leveraging on international maritime labour market, whereas the country contributes little or nothing to growing the market, saying it is a disservice that should be addressed by the federal government with urgency.
Kagbare, who is the publisher of Maritime Nigeria, stated that Nigeria’s shipping development capacity index was almost nil, giving foreigners absolute control over internal trade and transportation which according to him, is unacceptable and should be changed.