The House of Representatives has pledged to resolve impending issues against the optimal performance of the Maritime Sector to contribute immensely to Nigeria’s economy.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara gave the assurance at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways on eight Maritime Industry related Bills.
Mr. Dogara said the eight bills when passed, would address issues that have impeded on the maritime’s ability to be a major source of foreign exchange that the country is in dire need of.
“These Bills are indeed very important and more so now that we as a country are rethinking our economic master plan with the aim of avoiding a future relapse into the kind of nail biting recession which we have just exited from by identifying and strengthening other sources of government revenue.
“The Maritime sector is one such key source of huge revenue especially of the much needed foreign exchange, whose potentials have, unfortunately, been grossly under realised. This explains the importance which the present Assembly attaches to Maritime Sector reform Bills, 8 of which this committee is presenting to the public for scrutiny and input today. It is evident that the determination of this House to re-engineer and reposition this sector for optimum performance is not in doubt,” he explained.
On the intendment of the bills, Dogara added that “they will position our maritime sector to deliver efficient services in a safe, secure and customer friendly environment, generate employment as well as develop capable local manpower, which will contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and provide a formidable alternative to oil and gas in terms of revenue.”
Multi modal transport policy
The Chairman House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, Patrick Asadu said the event signified a major legislative push to enact laws that would provide internationally competitive legal framework for realising the multi modal transport policy of government.
The Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi said the amendments would improve tremendously the operations and ensure effective regulation in the sector.
The eight Bills under consideration are;
- A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, and to Establish the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority.
- A Bill for an Act to Amend the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, aimed at providing an appropriate institutional framework for the ownership, management, operation, development and control of Ports and Harbours nationwide.
- A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, and Re-enact the National Inland Waterways Authority Act; and,
- A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, to specify the tenure of Office of the Secretary and empower the Authority to receive donations and for other related matters, seeking to awaken the consciousness of Nigerians to God’s natural roads and rails provided free to 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory in form of inland waterways.
- A Bill for an Act to Amend the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act to restrict the use of foreign vessels in domestic coastal trade, promote the development of indigenous tonnage and establish a Cabotage vessel financing fund, and
- A Bill for an Act to Amend the Inland Fisheries Act to review upwards, the penalties for persons who contravene the Act in view of the fact that the current stipulated penalties are grossly inadequate and totally incapable of deterring offenders as the penalties are a mere slap on the wrists of offenders.
- A Bill is for an Act to Amend the National Shipping Policy Act, to include the representative of the Nigerian Shippers Council in the membership of the Authority, subject of course to majority opinion
- A Bill for an Act to Amend the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and for Related Matters, to amend some sections of the Council’s Act with a view to empowering it for better performance and improved efficiency.