From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other relevant maritime regulatory agencies have been tasked to urgently arrest the rising cases of sea robbery on vessels at berth at the nation’s terminals, which has prompted shipping lines to introduce war risk surcharges on Nigeria-bound consignments.
Addressing maritime regulators and other stakeholders at 4th Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference (TAAM)in Lagos over the weekend, the Group Executive Vice-Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, stressed the need to firmly secure Nigeria’s maritime domain against all forms of criminalities.
While commending NIMASA’s support, Afolabi, who was represented by the Managing Director of SIFAX Group, Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, noted that “attacks on ships, either at berth, anchorage or off our coastal area, can effectively be tackled with the right approach.”
Dwelling on the theme, “Innovation and Practical Reforms Towards Sustainable Growth in the Maritime Sector,” he tasked the Federal Government on more funding for maritime security beyond assent to the anti-piracy bill.
He further urged the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the sector to implement the various policies and reforms necessary to grow the sector, while urging government to always allow those who initiate reforms to drive the process to completion before being removed, to enable the initiative yield the desired result.
“I want to commend the Federal Government, through the various efforts of the regulatory agencies in the maritime sector such as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NIMASA and Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), for its policy of linking some of the ports to the national rail network,” he said.
“With this policy, cargoes can be evacuated by rail from Apapa port to the hinterland. Government’s initiative of moving cargoes from the ports to the inland dry ports and container freight stations is a welcome development and must be seen to the end.”
Nevertheless, he insisted on more policies, reforms and strong mechanism for implementation, stating that various challenges notwithstanding, the Nigerian ports reforms that opened up port operations to the private sector was a huge success.
On his part, the NSC Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, said the NSC bill, when ready, would “regulate the carriage of goods by land, which means there must be liability, insurance, responsibility of the owners of the transport and carriage”.