MARITIME SECTOR CAN SERVICE NATIONAL BUDGET – SARAKI

The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki has disclosed that maritime trade if properly harnessed, can service the nation’s budget.

The Minister made this known at the just concluded 2020 Ministerial Retreat (2nd Phase) in Lagos.

“The country is lagging behind in the comity of nations when it comes to ship ownership and shipping business. For instance, the world blue economy is worth over $24 trillion. Undoubtedly, blue economy offers great opportunities for foreign exchange earnings. It is also unfortunate that the country is yet to take full advantage and harness the enormous potential in the sector” she said.

In the same vein, she advocated that the country should seize the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement to launch itself into becoming the destination of choice for goods and services in the regional market and the world.

While chronicling the achievements of the Ministry and its agencies in getting the bill on Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences signed into law, improved port operations, development of Inland Dry Ports, the Deep Blue Project among others, Saraki acknowledged that “a lot needs to be done to enable Nigeria Maritime Sub-sector take full advantage of its geographical position in the subregion and Africa at large“.

On the issue of Apapa gridlock, the Minister of State said: “the situation in Apapa, Lagos is not and can never be acceptable. There is urgent need to fix the Oshodi/Apapa”, noting that the call-up system has collapsed due to corrupt practices by officials or lack of enforcement.

She further called on the National Inland Waterways Authority to strategize on how to make water transportation attractive to the people as it is not only economical but environmentally friendly.

Speaking earlier, on the importance of transportation, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said “transportation is one of the critical factors of development at the heart of economic growth and prosperity of any nation. It is considered as a catalyst of economic activity through the movement of people and goods”.

The Permanent Secretary further informed that the essence of the retreat is to provide “a forum to discuss our achievements. As a sector, assess the challenges confronting us and come up with implementable strategies to enhance the performance of the Ministry and its agencies in the delivery of our mandate”.

It will be recalled that the first phase of the retreat took place on 11th -13th February this year in Oron, Akwa Ibom State. The agencies that presented scorecard then were: Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Council for Registration of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria, Maritime Academy of Nigeria and National Inland Waterways Authority.

The retreat had in attendance top management staff of the Ministry, Chairman and members of Governing Boards of Agencies, Heads of Agencies amongst others.

Eric Ojiekwe

D, PPR,

August 9, 2021

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