By Christiana Ekpa
Stakeholders including Nigeria Shippers Council, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Ports Authority among others yesterday told the House of the Representatives Ad-hoc committee that abandonment, piracy, multiple charges are challenges bedeviling Warri, Port-Harcourt, Onne, Onitsha, Calabar ports utilisation.
This was just as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila disclosed that the priority of the House is to get ports in the country working to attract jobs creation.
Gbajabiamila disclosed this on Thursday while declaring open a public hearing organised by the House adhoc committee to determine why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Onitsha Inland ports complexes are not being put to maximal use.
The Speaker who was represented by House Deputy leader, Peter Akpatason explained that getting these ports working would make the world know that the country is open for business.
He called on stakeholders and all present at the hearing to extensively deliberate on way forward to activate these ports.
On his part, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Mr Buba Yakub noted that, “worries by the increasing loss of man-hours and the untold hardship, with its resultant loss of revenue, that business owners, commuters, shipping and haulage companies suffer in some parts of Lagos as a result of the hydra-headed monster called traffic gridlock arising from congestion in the two Port Complexes necessitated the House to resolve to set up this ad-hoc committee”.
Mr Yakub while enjoining stakeholders to be fully involved in deliberation charged them saying “Give us the benefit of what you know and think can be deployed into solving the challenge at hand. Already, on our own as Nigerians and lawmakers, we have heard and read what every concerned Nigerian knows about the situation in our Port Complexes; all of those being in the public domain, but we would be relying on you, our noble stakeholders in the maritime game, to point for us the way forward in all of these.”
At the interactive session, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas who was also represented pointed uncharted channels of the Eastern ports, unmarked vessels under water which causes ship wreck, long abandoned infrastructure among other challenges bedeviling the maximal utilisation of the ports.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry of transportation, Sabin Zakari noted that multiple charges by some agencies causes low patronage of these ports.
Zakari therefore recommended sufficient funding and cooperation between major stakeholders and security agencies in other to make the maritime environment conducive for business.
Stakeholders that were present include, Nigeria Shippers Council, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Ports Authority, Intel, the Nigerian Navy among others.