The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, has reiterated the need to fix the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway to boost businesses and generate more revenue at the Lagos ports.
Saraki said this during the Second Phase of 2020 Ministerial Retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Lagos on Thursday.
She said there was need to provide infrastructural base ‘in and out of the port system’, lamenting that the recently introduced call-up system has collapsed.
Daily Trust reports that the call-up system was introduced recently by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and other stakeholders to mitigate the seemingly intractable gridlock in Apapa port and its environs.
But the system had barely taken off when complaints began to fly in about its inadequacies.
“The Call-Up system that was recently put in place has literally collapsed either due to corrupt practices or lack of enforcement by security agents,” the Minister said.
The Minister said fixing the network of roads in Apapa would go a long way in helping businesses and shoring up the revenues generated from the port.
“There is urgent need to fix the road to boost businesses at the port and generate more revenue to revitalise the economy,” she said.
“We need to strengthen the institutional capabilities of maritime agencies to position the country as a hub of maritime activities in West and Central Africa to boost the economy.”
According to the Minister, as a special sector, maritime needs efficient and well-trained professionals to ensure effective operation.
Saraki said the employment opportunities available in the maritime sector had not been well harnessed by Nigeria.
She said that since the last retreat which took place in Akwa Ibom, the maritime sector has made tremendous achievements inspite of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Saraki said President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Bill into law after the first Ministerial Retreat.
She further said that there was a need to remove things causing delay in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF).
“This will help assist the local shipowners to grow and contribute to the economy,” she said.
The minister said that maritime trade alone could service the nation’s annual budget, if properly harnessed.
She said the country was lagging behind in the commity of nations when it comes to ship ownership and shipping business .
She added that the country was yet to take full advantage and harness the enormous potential of blue economy and its opportunities for foreign exchange.
Saraki said that the National Inland Waterways Authority should focus on enhancing the waterways for a sustainable coastal trade.
She urged the transport agencies to double their efforts in having a validated and approved legal framework such as the National Transport Policy, Maritime Policy and Urban Policy to serve as blueprint for their operations.