The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman has called for sustained efforts to maximise the opportunities that abound in the maritime sub-sector through entrepreneurship.
She stated this while speaking at the second edition of the Nigeria and Entrepreneurship Summit and Honours (NESH) Maritime Roundtable in Lagos with the theme: “Harnessing the Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in the Nigerian Maritime Sub-sector.”
The NPA boss stated that the nation’s maritime sub-sector could be a notable contributor to the efforts at poverty reduction, creation of wealth, promotion of skills acquisition and encouragement of entrepreneurship.
Bala-Usman noted that the sector has the potential of contributing at least 10 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in no distant future because Nigeria has the biggest market in Africa. The discussions at the event centred on the strategic exploitation and harnessing of the vast opportunities that abound in the maritime domain and the envisaged contributions to the nation’s GDP thereby reducing the dependence on the petroleum sector.
“Nigeria has a vast inland waterway resource estimated at about 3,000 km that can support a vibrant inter-reginal trade. The country is also advantageously located on the coastline corridors of the Gulf of Guinea and the Bight of Benin and has eight littoral states coupled with a growing population and huge market that counters the capacity to stimulate substantial domestic tonnage,” she said.
The MD, who was represented by Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Ibrahim Nasiru informed the stakeholders that there was need to strengthen requisite skills for greater professionalism through funding and capacity building that would drive the implementation of the abundant maritime resources in the country.
She also noted that the authority was in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in order to increase the latter’s market share in the wheel of cargo evacuation from the ports.
In doing this, she stressed is critical to traffic management framework, collaboration with Inland Container Depots (ICD) like that of Kaduna for swift cargo evacuation to the northern hinterlands.
“We have also ensured the deployment of modern technology tools like Revenue and Invoice Management System (RIMS) and the much-expected Single Window for real time swift cargo release processes are in progress,” she stated.
The NPA boss equally encouraged stakeholders in the areas of Traffic Management Frameworks for stemming the gridlock across board, automated truck management system exemplified by holding bay with an efficient call-up system.
She called for the effective management of the nation’s Green fields which are expected to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) and generate more revenue while enshrining the tenets of Private Public Partnership (PPP).
Bala-Usman stressed the need for the utilisation of modern navigational infrastructure for health, safety, and security of the port environment whilst enshrining efficient marine services in line with global practice.
She also stated that the NPA was keen on fixing all access roads to all the country’s sea ports. This, according to her, became imperative due to the negative impact that traffic gridlock occasioned by bad roads is having on the nation’s ports and by extension the economy.
“We accomplished the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for the reconstruction of the port access road,” he said.