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“Nigeria Committed to Enhancing Port Efficiency, Maritime Security”

By Tajudeen Balogun, Abuja

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said Nigeria is committed to collaborating with key stakeholders in Maritime sector to enhance port efficiency and security of the country’s waterways.

The vice president who represented President Muhammadu Buhari made the submission Thursday at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja during the formal opening of the 3rd Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA) Conference.

He stated that the recent peace initiative with the community leaders, residents and other interest groups in the Niger Delta region was meant to confront the security challenges facing the Maritime administrators.

Other areas of support noted by the vice president was information and Communication Technology (ICT) to upgrade the activities of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

In his remarks at the formal opening, the Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi noted that by hosting the ongoing third edition of the conference, Nigeria wished to restate its commitment to continually contribute to the growth of Maritime sector on the continent of Africa and globally.

Amaechi stressed that the conference was not merely to organize or praise the Maritime sector in Africa, but to tackle the industry problems being encountered within the continent.

The Minister lamented that despite Africa’s enormous Maritime endowment, the continent was still susceptible to raft of challenges, which he mentioned include; insignificant share of cargo; low tonnage; piracy; sea robbery; undeclared and unregulated fishing and environmental degradation.

Similarly, Mr. Amaechi who noted that despite the huge African human capacity, the continent was still greatly underdeveloped, forcing reliance on foreigners to drive her Maritime industry.

Against this background, the Minister challenged the African Maritime administrators not only to declare and but show their independence.

He said he hoped that the conference would address how to strengthen Maritime administration, co-operation at the continental level; how to tackle the challenges from capacity building, regulatory and enforcement perspectives.

While speaking on African dependence on import and export trade for her economic survival,  the immediate past Governor of Rivers State proffered there was need for a coordinated approach so that Africa could benefit optimally from shipping and the ”blue economy”.

On efforts to resolve challenges confronting the maritime sector, Mr. Amaechi said FG recently approved a new Maritime security infrastructures initiative to tackle piracy and sea robbery on waterways.

Other initiatives include establishment of a dedicated fund, the cabotage vessel financing fund (CVFF) to encourage and enhance the capacity of ”our indigenous shipping trade; implementation of maritime pollution Convention (Marpol) to address environmental challenges; raising the standard of Nigerian Seafarers to be competitive at international level; deliberate efforts to increase availability of cargo to the indigenous carriers through cargo support policy; among others.

The Minister announced that Nigeria has so far ratified 35 IMO conventions, gazette 34 maritime regulations pursuant to the Nigerian Merchant shipping Act 2007.

On the incoming IMO election, Mr. Amaechi who disclosed that Nigeria has attained 80 per cent compliance with ISPS code implementation and strategically positioned to play vital role as a major shipping destination within the continent, called for support of the country to contest the IMO category ‘C’ election so as to give the continent a respectable voice in the Council.

He declared that Africa could not continue to allow international partners to set agenda and champion her maritime cause, stressing that the continent must lead the way and outline her vision.

Hon. Amaechi pledged that Nigeria was ready to collaborate with ”her brothers, sister and partners to deepen this cooperation”.

He expressed hope that the conference would address how to redeem ”our pride from our policy, retrieve insecurity from our restive waters; fish out profit from our seas and sail to our unwavering goals”.

In his welcome address, NIMASA Director General (DG) Dr. Dakuku Peterside confessed that Nigeria has waited for this day and year to host the all-important gathering.

”Nigeria’s place in the Maritime world is not only deserved, it is common knowledge. It is special in the maritime community in Africa for a number of reasons. Nigeria accounts for over 60% of the total seaborne traffic in volume and value in West and Central Africa region.

”As the sixth largest OPEC exporting country, we contribute significantly to the global energy supply and wet cargo traffic.  My country’s signature adorns all continental maritime initiatives and charters that seek to promote the development of Africa.  We are geo-strategically located as a major littoral state in the Gulf of Guinea.

”By all estimation, we are a leader, high on the crest of maritime nations, determined to advance African maritime prosperity. So, hosting a conference of the continent’s maritime administrators is overdue” the NIMASA boss restated.

He recalled that AAMA was inspired by African Union maritime transport charter provides to the stakeholders in maritime sector, a platform to give effect to the various charters adopted by our heads of government whether AIM 2050, Agenda 2063  or Lome charter.

He added that the association was also a veritable continental institutional framework for peer review, to discuss maritime governance in our continent, develop an implementation framework for a Pan African maritime policy and strategy, take leadership in controlling our continent’s maritime domain and promote Intra-African partnership to address our peculiar maritime challenges.

Dr Peterside affirmed that AAMA has a collective responsibility to promote new awareness and appreciation of the ”inevitable role maritime transport and the blue economy can play as enabler of the economic development of our continent” adding that the body was looking up to the ongoing conference to achieve the set goal.

”I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will sail to its shore, it will mark the beginning of concerted cooperative and collaborative efforts at tackling Africa’s maritime administration challenges as well as tapping into our limitless opportunities. Africa’s water ways will be better at the end of this conference than it was at the beginning” Dr Peterside assured.

The event was attended by the President of Senate, represented by Senator Bala Na’ala; House of the Representatives Speaker, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara and Heads of different African Maritime Administration   and Safety Agencies.

The formal opening of the Conference with the theme: ”Sustainable Use of African Oceans and Seas” also featured the formal unveiling of NIMASA conducted by Vice President Prof. Osinbajo.

 

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