By Cliffsimeon Akalonu
Stakeholders in maritime industry have come together in a round table discussion to discuss maritime infrastructure financing. With the theme-“Financing Maritime Infrastructures”, the convener, Maritime Business RoundTable Breakfast Meeting, Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, said infrastructure is the skeleton to development and financing capital business, fleet expansion, even as the establishment of truck transit parks will also help to ease the access roads to the ports.
She explained that Norway, has moved to actualize good maritime operations through proper financing which has helped the growth to their economy. “The USA, successfully completed its acts to regulate its maritime activities and there is a lesson we can learn from these countries as they are no different to Nigeria”.
Using Lagos state as a case study for infrastructural maintenance and financing, the Commissioner for Transport, Lagos State, who was represented by the Managing Director, LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, said that, Lagos State has 56 owned jetties and extra 10 have been built at the state level for operations, 20 functional commercial parks and garage and 30 jetties being constructed at local levels.
He said that, even at all these, the State government still provide enabling and good working grounds for water operators, stating that, because of the large and massive nature of some of these infrastructures, the state government concessioned and leased some of the structures to private sector and manage some as well. “This is the way to go in achieving good funding to maritime infrastructures and I think the Federal will emulate this act and revisit the maritime funding plans”, he said.
Speaking during the plenary session, the Managing Director, Morlap Shipping Company Limited, (Former President, Nigeria Ship Owners Association), Chief Isaac Jolapamo, ably represented by Goke Ojo, stressed that, “acquiring a ship tanker Vessel is up above 50-60million dollars and there are high standards that need to be met, its maintenance together with other things involved, you now see why financing is needed in this aspect”.
He also said that, there has been few encouragement from some government agencies like NIMASA. “Government should not be directly involved in the transport of oil, it should be more less, the business of the private sector, government should concentrate more on how to finance the business, provide loans and forex to shippers at an affordable price”.
Director General of NIMASA, Peterside Dakuku; represented by Director, Shipping Development, NIMASA, Mr. Gadi, urged shippers to come under one umbrella.
“Maritime is very vast and infrastructure should be put in place with adequate funding which will in turn contribute massively to the Nigerian economy as it has always being”, Gadi said.
Discussants at the round table meeting were the Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Transportation, Lagos State, Ladi Lawanson; the Consul General of Norway and CEO Marine Platforms Limited, Mr. Taofik Adegbite; the Managing Director, NNPC Shipping, Mrs. Aisha Farida Katagum; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman.
Others were the Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello; the Director General, NIMASA, Peterside Dakuku; Managing Director, Morlap Shipping Company Limited, (former President, Nigeria Ship Owners Association), Chief Isaac Jolapamo; Commercial Counsellor, US Department of Commerce, Brent Omdahl; and the President, Chamber of Shipping, Mr. Andy Isichei.