FG to build new ports in various locations across the country – Oyetola


…As NASS moves to include Nigeria in $1.8 trillion Blue Economy potentials


By Abiodun OBA

Efforts are being intensified to build new ports in various locations across the country, including Badagry in Lagos State and Ondo State.

The Minister of Blue Economy, Chief Adegboyega Oyetola, disclosed the Ministry’s plans during the 2024 budget defence held at the instance of the joint Committees on Ports & Harbours and other Standing Committees.

While responding to various questions from the lawmakers, the Minister also disclosed the Ministry’s plans to dredge some of the existing ports.

While admitting that shippers divert vessels to neighbouring countries, Chief Oyetola stressed the need for adequate funding for the dredging of various ports to enable them to take big vessels.

The Minister, expressed displeasure over the level of infrastructure decay at the Tin Can Inland and other ports during his official assessment of the ports on assumption of office, and disclosed that about $1.2 billion will be required to fix the ports, adding that he has started discussions with various stakeholders, including the World Bank and other banks, as well as contractors, on the funding of the project

He also assured the Ministry’s resolve to adopt technology as well as the National Single Window policy, reduce the level of human interaction, and reduce the clearance of cargo at various ports across the country.

Oyetola, who explained that the authorities of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) are positively disposed to the use of scanners at the ports, underscored the need for attitudinal change.

The Minister also solicited the support of the Parliament on the establishment of the Coastal Guard in the bid to ensure safety and Nigerian ports and boost revenue through fisheries in the Blue Economy industry as part of efforts to reduce $4 billion spent on importation of fish into the country.

While noting that not less than 28 states are connected to water, he underscored the need for massive investment in the dredging of waterways for improved water transportation.

While responding to the proposed procurement of the official vehicles, Permanent Secretary disclosed that the cost of the vehicles was obtained online with an additional markup price because of the fluctuating foreign exchange and other factors.

Senators and members of the House of Representatives asked the Minister to tap into the $1.8 trillion blue economy potential as well as improve revenue generation through the maritime industry.

The lawmakers also expressed regrets over the report on the loss of over N1 trillion revenue due to poor infrastructure in the maritime industry.

In the bid to improve service delivery and ease of doing business, the lawmakers, who frowned at the non-provision of funds in the 2024 budget proposal, called for the acquisition and installation of scanners at various ports as part of ongoing efforts geared toward making the nation’s ports competitive.

They expressed concerns over the activities of shippers/importers who abandoned Nigerian ports to berth at ports owned by neighbouring countries, as well as a roadmap towards addressing the myriad of challenges facing the industry.

The lawmakers also demanded a breakdown of the lump sum of N1 billion proposed for the procurement of official vehicles for the Minister, permanent secretary (2 Toyota Landcruisers), 7 Innoson pickups for project vehicles, and 7 units of 28-seater CNG buses for the new ministry.

They further queried the Ministry over the underutilization of N130 million released for rehabilitation, utilisation and patronage of eastern ports (N10 million); monitoring for navigational channels Calabar River Port (N15 million); women empowerment on maritime-related activities, World Seafarers Day, and World Women empowerment on maritime-related activities, world seafarers day and world women in maritime international day (N25 million); Coordination of process of establishing/designating a National Career (Shipping) – N20 million; International seabed Authority (ISA)/United Nations Convention on law of the sea (UNCLOS) and Development of Inland Dry Ports including Ministerial Standing Committee on delivery of Inland Dry Ports (N10 million), respectively.

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