By Ignatius Ushie. Abuja.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has received an interim report on the need to establish a strong and sustainable national fleet by the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee.
In a statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja, Sambo while receiving the report at the Ministry in Abuja, stated that it is one he is keenly interested in, as “Nigeria is a maritime country and if Nigeria gets its acts together, the country will have no business looking for money from the oil sector as a contribution to the GDP of the country.” He said.
On how the project can be immediately realized, according to him, “I don’t know whether, in the course of the Committee’s consultations with other Stakeholders, you were able to have some conversations with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) because, If NNPC, can give 100 % support, this matter can be closed in two months.”
“How can we be an oil producer, I think we are the sixth largest oil producers in the world and I don’t think that position has shifted and yet we don’t have one single boat carrier,” the Minister asked while informing that he would approach the President, Mohammadu Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources on the prospects and implementation of the Nigerian Fleet.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, and Chairman, Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee (NFIC), Emmanuel Jime, said the Committee was constituted by the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to implement the recommendations in the report by an earlier Ministerial Committee on Modalities for the Establishment of a Nigerian Fleet.
Jime who was represented by Managing Director, Sea Transport Group and member, NFIC, Umar Aminu, stated that the initiative was a way of responding to the nonparticipation of Nigerians in the carriage of Nigeria’s international cargo as well as the loss of freight revenue, jobs and other benefits which would otherwise have accrued to the country.
“In the course of carrying out the mandate, lessons have been learnt and some modest achievements have been recorded. These have been captured in this interim report which we are submitting today. The work is still ongoing and the goal of creating an enabling environment for the growth of a sustainable Nigerian fleet will be achieved in due course”.
Continuing, Jime noted: “There were challenges that impeded the quick realization of the project as earlier envisaged. Shipping is international and competitive in nature and Nigeria cannot operate in isolation, hence the need for the operating environment to be similar to what obtains elsewhere. This has been a major challenge to the growth of the sector in Nigeria. Review of certain trade policies, access to funds, and technical/human capacity are issues that need to be resolved”.