With Nigeria still battling with many forms of infrastructural decay, Emmanuel Jime, executive secretary/chief executive officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has expressed deep concern over the general infrastructure gap in the country’s maritime domain.
Jime said this when Presidents of Shippers’ Association in Jos, Benue, Niger and Kogi States visited him in Abuja last weekend He said during the meeting that, there is generally an infrastructure gap in the country’s maritime domain.
‘’We talk about inter-modal means of transportation whether it is through our waterways, whether it is railways, whether it is a road network. The reality on the ground is that we are not anywhere near the level that we should be in order to deliver on our infrastructure. That is a reality that we have to deal with’’.
He expressed doubt if the shippers’ council as an agency can do much about infrastructure gap or deficit, instead he admitted that what the organization can do is advocacy and that advocacy is in partnership.
”When we say these are the challenges that our shippers are having and it is brought to us, it is our responsibility to escalate it. So, I can give you my word that wherever we have found that there is infrastructure deficit and gap, to the best of my ability, we will escalate that information and make sure government is aware that there is a gap that needs to be addressed,” he said.
On river port, Jime said it was not within the purview of the council to facilitate but that of the National Inland Waterways (NIWA), but that, the NSC will discuss with the appropriate quarters to get solutions.
On re-establishment of NSC offices in Benue and Minna, he assured the shippers that plans were already underway to ensure its really establishments.
He reiterated the responsibility of the council which he said was the protection of shippers, adding that NSC had been working and would continue to work to ensure moderation in the cost of shipping business in the country to ensure growth and competitiveness.
In his submission, ‘’We are interfacing with the international community, so we have a responsibility of making sure that Nigerian shippers are able to stand up against the exploitative tendencies of international shipping companies’’.
He explained that, the council is putting in place measures that will enforce compliance and make sure everybody is playing by the rules.
”The North Central office, we must opt our game, we are doing quite a lot but we have to do even more, so sensitisation, organisation of seminars, conferences, that is the duty of the North Central office, “he said.
For truck transit parks, the executive secretary said it was essential, adding that the council was promoting it to make it safe, thus, reducing the rate accident on the roads.
The NSC was building border information centres that will be equipped to provide necessary information for shippers among other things.
On Kano-Maradi rail project, Jime said: ”we are trying to make Nigeria be the maritime hub of West Africa, we cannot be a maritime hub simply by moving goods from the ports into the inter-lands of Nigeria
We have to dominate and control trade within our sub-region. How are we going to carry goods from our seaport to Niger if we do not have the railway line leading into that country. From Niger, you can move to Mali and other parts of the world, that is why that rail is important’’. The shippers’ council boss stated.
President, Benue Shippers Association, Potter Yakubu appealed to the NSC boss to reinstate the council’s area office in Benue state and establish an inland container depot in Makurdi. It is indeed sad to note that the closure of the area office dealt a blow to our concerted efforts export drive.
He said that, the state government is working in tandem with is for the establishment of the Makurdi river port. Y
”We wish to emphasise the comparative advantage Benue State has over several other states in terms of connectivity; roads, rail line, airport and the second largest river in the country, whose name the state bears.
”Therefore, restoring developing and harnessing all the above-mentioned potentials will definitely add value to our concerted shipping drive, “Yakubu said.
Mike Nwanaoshiri, President of Jos Shippers council reiterated the achievements of the association, saying the association was collaborating with other bodies to help members.
On challenges, Nwanaoshiri said that the association had a parcel of land which it has not been able to fence and get its title due to insufficient funds.
The association needed a warehouse for the storage of goods and lacked capital, inputs and the requisite knowledge of documentation procedures among others.
He asked the NSC to assist in finding solutions to the various challenges especially by organising sensitisation workshops and providing access to funds for members.
President of Niger Shippers Association, Jamilu Goma, also called for the re-opening of the NSC state’s office in Minna.
Goma appealed to the council to facilitate means for the operation of Baro Port and the establishment of an inland container depot in the state among others.
On his side, Kogi Shippers Association President, Raman Suleiman, reiterated the various ways in which the association was assisting its members and told the council to assist in the area of funding to enable it organise necessary training for members.
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