The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman has disclosed that cargoes transiting through Nigerian Ports now exceed $15billion mark annually.
Hadiza made the statement in Lagos, while speaking at an industry event.
The MD represented by the Executive Director Marine and Operations, Dr. Sekonte Davies commended the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for its giant strides in the maritime sector.
She however lamented that an important factor deciding the competitiveness of the maritime sector is the efficiency with which cargoes are evacuated to and from the ports lamenting that this is an area in which the maritime sector in Nigeria, has suffered especially in terms of poor access roads.
In order to ameliorate the situation, Hadiza said the Wharf Road the reconstruction of which the NPA spearheaded with the contribution of N1.8 billion, was recently commissioned.
According to her, just before the end of year 2018, the Federal Government awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the Apapa-Creek Road up to the Toll gate at a cost of N72b.
She said an additional 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across the six geo political zones of the country just so to enhance connectivity.
Speaking, she said “Nigerian ports are a major gateway into the country with over 85 per cent of all the goods and services coming into the country exploiting facilities at the nation’s seaports with aggregate value exceeding the $15billion mark annually.
“An undeniable corollary of the foregoing is that the maritime sector is a major contributor to the economy. This is more so when we consider that the oil and gas sector, which is the country’s economic mainstay, is itself almost completely dependent on the maritime sector.
“Because the maritime industry is an intensely competitive one wherein stakeholders have the liberty of choice and the discretion to review those choices as often as they will, ports desiring any level of market share must be open in their practices and engender confidence, retain old patronage and gain more trust with the intent of increasing market share. This is more so for us in Nigeria where, as we said earlier the maritime sector is a significant contributor to national growth with yet untapped potentials to do more.”
Hadiza went further to say that the administration realises that the maritime sector cannot attain its potential without the deployment of multimodal transportation so it has initiated stimulation activities on inland waterways championed by the Nigerian Inland Waterways Agency.
According to her, major inland river channels are being dredged with adequate channel markings for ease of navigation all the way through the Eastern and Northern parts of the country to encourage the movement of cargo by barges.
In the area of maritime security, Hadiza noted that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has invested heavily in a satellite Monitoring and Surveillance System while the Nigerian Navy has also increased the frequency of patrols on the waters.
She said the Navy has also deployed 39 newly produced gunboats and the second indigenous Seaward Defence Boat for surveillance purposes.