The Executive Secretary /Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr Emmanuel Jime, has decried a 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 on Friday.
”There is generally an infrastructure gap in our maritime domain. We talk about inter-modal means of transportation whether it is through our waterways, whether it is railways, whether it is 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.
”Can the shippers’ council as an agency do much about infrastructure gap or deficit? I am not sure. What we can do is advocacy and that advocacy is in partnership.
”So, 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 NIWA, but 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.
He said the 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.
”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
”That is a responsibility that I don’t take likely.
We are 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.
On 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.
He further said the NSC was building border information centres that will be equipped to provide necessary information for shippers among other things.
On Kano-Maradi railway, 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 Niger?
”And from Niger, you can move to Mali and other parts of the world, that is why that rail is important.
Earlier, the President, Benue Shippers Association, Mr Potter Yakubu, prayed the NSC boss to reinstate the council’s Benue Area Office and establish an inland container depot in Makurdi.
”It is indeed sad to note that the closure of the Benue Area Office of your Council dealt a debilitating and frustrating blow to our concerted efforts export drive.
”To this end, we are here to passionately appeal that you use your good offices to do the needful for us.
”Similarly, Benue State Government is working in tandem with is for the establishment of the Makurdi River Port. Your partnering with us for the realisation of this lofty project will be highly appreciated.
”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.
Mr 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.
He said the association needed a warehouse for the storage of goods and lacked capital, inputs and the requisite knowledge of documentation procedures among others.
He prayed the NSC to assist in anyway way possible towards finding solutions to the various challenges especially by organising sensitisation workshops and providing access to funds for members.
On his part, the President of Niger Shippers Association, Jamilu Goma, also Prayed for the reopening of the NSC office in Minna, Niger State.
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.
Similarly, the Kogi Shippers Association President, Raman Suleiman, reiterated the various ways in which the association was assisting its members.
Suleiman however prayed the council to assist in the area of funding to enable it to organise necessary training for its members. (NAN)