Nigeria: ‘Investment in ports will reposition maritime sector’

Source: THE NATION

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, yesterday, said government’s huge investment in the maritime sector is aimed at repositioning the country as a leading nation in the marine business.

He reemphasised that the President Bola Tinubu administration is committed to investing in developing the nation’s maritime assets as well as committed to addressing the challenges facing the maritime sector and ultimately making the nation’s seaports the best in the region.

Oyetola made this known at the inauguration of two newly acquired 80 tons of bollard pull tugboats purchased by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to enhance operations and berthing of vessels at the Dangote Refinery and Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos. The acquisition, he said, is a further boost towards enhancing port efficiency and strengthening Nigeria’s position as a leading maritime nation in the West and Central Africa sub region.

“We recognise the critical role that efficient port operations play in accelerating economic growth and will do all that is required to update the existing facilities to deliver on this. By acquiring these modern marine crafts, we are reaffirming our commitment to maximise the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. We are determined to optimise our competitive edge as a littoral nation and deepen our efficiencies through the deployment of cutting-edge technology and equipment,” Oyetola said.

The multi-million dollar vessels, purchased by the NPA, were christened MT IRAGBIJI and MT BAMA, to support port international trade, enhance security, patrol and surveillance including delivering efficient pilotage and towage services that would also kelp in quick evacuation of cargo at the Lekki corridor.

In his address, the Managing Director, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the acquisition would enable the Authority to attain a regional hub status by efficiently servicing domestic cargo needs, winning back transit cargoes hitherto lost to maritime neighbours and positioning to cater to the maritime requirements of landlocked neighbouring countries.

He said the NPA has deployed a three-pronged strategy driven by people- technology, infrastructure and equipment such as the state-of-the-art vessels that were commissioned yesterday.

He noted that the acquisition of the marine craft is part of the fulfillment of NPA’s deliverables under the Presidential/Ministerial Performance Bond to optimise Nigeria’s marine and blue economy by providing relevant marine technology and equipment.

Pointing out that the marine crafts would be deployed to serve operations at the Lekki corridor, Bello-Koko said the corridor has become a hub for actualising Nigeria’s quest for self-sufficiency in energy, agricultural growth and trade transshipment capacity with the hosting of a 650,000 barrels-per-day Dangote Refinery, Africa’s largest granulated urea fertiliser complex and Nigeria’s first fully automated Deep Seaport, which can berth Super Post Panamax sized ships.

“Data from Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals shows that 120 tanker vessels have been handled in the six months from January – June 2024 with a projection for 415 between July to December, while Dangote Fertilisers have handled 17 fertiliser vessels with a projection for 41 in the corresponding period.

“We are by these commissioning and ancillary deployments putting mechanisms in place to cater for continuous increase going forward,” the NPA boss assured.

Also speaking, the Cmptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi said the Service has found it comfortable to work with the NPA to develop the export sector, automate Customs processes, decongest the ports and ensure its efficiency.

According to Adeniyi, the collaboration between Customs and NPA has started yielding good dividends as both agencies of government were recently ranked high by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in line with the vision of the present administration to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector. He assured that Customs would do all within its capacity to remain on top of ease of doing business ranking for the growth of the maritime industry.

In his own remark, the Director-General Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dayo Mobereola, lauded the NPA and Minister of the Marine and Blue Economy for the leading role played in driving efficient service delivery in the nation’s sea ports. He said trade facilitation comes with efficiency and concluded that only efficient service delivery would enable Nigeria to regain cargo lost to neighbouring West African ports.

THE AUTHOR: Oluwakemi Dauda

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