From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Amidst stakeholders’ frantic efforts to salvage the Lagos port roads from the congestion arising from the dilapidation and over-use as the only access to and from the facilities, the former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, has urged the development of intermodal transportation to improve ports efficiency in country.
Chairing the first regional conference of the International African Ports and Harbour (IAPH) in Abuja, with the theme, “African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity,” coincides with the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Ministry of Transportation to link all major seaports in the country to rail by 2021.
Abubakar urged port investors to tap the opportunities in connecting the ports with the hinterlands through various means of transportation, adding: “We can now imagine African potential if there are visible means of transportation connecting the entire countries,” according online maritime platform, Ships and Ports.
“There is need for the development of the supply chains for the hinterlands through optimal utilisation of the rail, road and waterways as viable mechanisms for conveying cargoes to various locations.
“African countries should also include the strategy of hinterland connectivity in their ports’ masterplans in order to ensure seamless evacuation of cargoes at the ports.”
Abubakar maintained that movement of cargoes to various destinations across the country should be improved to remove the existing gridlock on ports access roads, even as he noted that funding was paramount in achieving hinterland connectivity.
Buhari assured of his administration’s commitment to rebuilding supportive infrastructure for multimodal transportation from the ports to the hinterland, with a standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route by the end of 2021.
According to him, “this interconnectivity will improve the country’s economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth. The same level of serious attention is being given to the improvement of road infrastructure, just as we have insisted on the stimulation activities on our inland waterways.
“Major inland river channels are being dredged with adequate channel markings for ease of navigation all the way through the east and northern parts of the country. That is the only way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the maritime industry.”