From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Heads of the Nigerian maritime agencies have agreed to work on modalities for a quick commencement of a 24-hour port operations, intermodal transportation, maritime safety and security, as well as synergy among regulatory agencies in the sector for enhanced ports efficiency.
Also in view is the possibility of using barges to move containers, especially for those importing thousands and are willing to convey them via barges to Onitsha.
Disclosing these after their meeting in Lagos Tuesday, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, insisted that only a sufficient linkage of roads, railways, inland waterways and piping would end the gridlock on port access roads.
She explained: “We can’t decongest a port location with over 1.3 million containers by road. We must fast track the process of multi-modal transport system and this government is keen on prioritising that, and we are all providing the necessary support.”
Similarly, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the agencies “observed that port efficiency and effectiveness cannot be achieved without 24-hour operations.”
To facilitate a 24-hour ports operations, which will decongest the ports and ease business transactions, they “have agreed to set up a committee that will look into the operability of the port community system,” while communities around the port environments would be carried along to ensure safe operations within the vicinities and beyond.
“We are looking at the workability of a 24-hour port services to ease the pressure on our ports in terms of congestion” Jamoh explained. “We also agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on how movement of cargoes from the ports can be done by rail to reduce the pressure on our roads.
“Our focus is also to ensure that containers are moved by barges to dry ports outside the port environment. All these would help in the efficiency and effectiveness of our ports.”
To this end, “the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been mandated to ensure professionalism in movement of cargoes by barges,” Jamoh said.
“We also agreed to co-opt the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in our next meeting because rail evacuation of cargoes is very important for efficient port operation. So far, we are focusing on road, inland waterways and the rail.”
On his part, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, said the maritime agencies would work together to rid the Nigerian waters of unsafe craft and practices that endanger passengers and other users of the waterways.