National Discourse 2: Former NSC Boss Advise Nigerians To Stop Building Ports Like Constituency Projects

 …As Ogbeifun Urges Private Sector To Set Up Platforms In  Actualizing Maritime Industry Policies 
Experts have lend their voices to port development in the country as they urged Nigerians to stop the act of building ports like constituency projects.
Speaking as a Special Guest on Tuesday at National Discourse 2 with Distinguished Maritime Personalities (Damps) in Lagos, a former Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello has advised that ports should not be made to litter the country without a specific purpose even as he appreciate that more ports are being established in the country, .
He hinted that ports should not be built for ports sake but for their viability and ability to compete with other global ports in terms of infrastructure and linkage to the multimodal transport mode.
“The consignment that the port atracts makes it what it should be. It should have integration. We should not just build ports because we have water.
“Our ports must be efficient and must be competitive. You decide and have choices and design.
He maintained that for the ports to assume that expected standard, it must be smart, efficient and must not be an import dependent.
“Competition is critical to the development of ports but it looks like we don’t have it. Our ports must be smart, a no contact port, must be efficient.
“Our ports are built to keep receiving and any nation that does that alone will die.
“The question of shipping will be decided if we decide what we want to be. Is it ship building or ship repair..”
Speaking further, Barr. Bello called on the federal government to provide requisite infrastructure for an efficient port but admonished that it should be left to the private sector to run for a desired goal.
“The government has a bigger role to play in shipping business of the nation but it should be led by the private sector.”
He blamed the stunted growth in maritime and transportation sector on interference by individuals who towers their selfish interests above national interests. As a result of that, many reforms are not fully achieved.
His words, “Ports and Harbour, Nigeria Transport Commission are parts of the port reforms. It is important that when reforms are on, there should not be pause. Reforms in the maritime industry are half done. You face a lot of personally interest above national interest, hinderances.
Also speaking at the Discourse, a foremost shipping expert and Chief Executive Officer of Starz Marine and Engineering Ltd, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun  called on the private sector in the shipping subsector of the maritime to establish platforms to help actualize the policies of the sector.
According to him, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has done what he is supposed to do by separating the Maritime ministry from the transportation hence it behoves on the sector plyers to take it upon themselves to make out something from the government’s laudable initiative.
He maintained that creating private platforms will help to refloat the sector and ensure its continuity.
For the purpose of floating the private platforms, the shipping magnate said he decided to come out of retirement back into active shipping operations even as he promised stakeholders to watch out for him in days to come.
“We must commend him for having the boldness to come out whether he understands the implication or not, it is irrelevant. They have done what they are supposed to do. They have appointed whoever they want to appoint but the private sector should now rise up to set up platforms to help that ministry to actualise it’s objective.
“If we get established platforms for the policies of that ministry to be actualized, that ministry can get better than others and that is what has called me out back into active Maritime activities. Not because I am looking for money, or because I am looking for contract but because we must talk the talk and walk the talk.
“These are the areas the government must come in and address and there will be proliferation of different fleets and carrying different cargoes and this is where I call on you the press to begin to throw up these two critical issues so that the new government will know
“These people, they don’t know jack, they are politicians, they mean well but they are relying on you and I to tell them the critical things to do
“As time goes on, you will be hearing about it because it is about all of us.”
Engr. Ogbeifun expressed fears of possible extinction of master mariners over lack of platforms for cadets’ training.
“There is nothing wrong with Cabotage, but global shipping that we should have attained long before now and we must continue to talk about that importance or else, in a short while, you will no longer see internationally trained mariners like my humble self, Captain Alao, Captain Iheanacho and a few other that are ageing generation.
“If we go to establish such platforms that produced some of us like the national lines because if we don’t do that, we are just creating a vacuum that will be almost impossible to fill and that is why this initiative is good.
“There are challenges, we all know but we cannot have a fleet called Nigeria’s if we don’t review some policies that other successful nation’s are implementing in their domain.”
In his opening speech, he maintained that there is no nation that can boast of being a maritime nation without flying her flag globally and no nation can boast of being a viable, efficient maritime nation if it does not have an efficient port.
“Those two are paramount for any nation to consider itself a maritime nation to reckon with. It takes a critical few to make a change or an impact
“In an event a few weeks ago at Oriental Hotel, I was invited as an awardee and panelist and at the event, I made an announcement that I was coming out of retirement back into active Maritime operation for one singular objective.
“My prayer is that this country in my lifetime, should have global trading fleet that is private sector driven. I need your support, prayed and encouragement.
“We tried to make it happen through the Fleet Implementation Committee but the government did not have the political will to see it through
“What has motivated me to do this. Those of you who remember the first NIMAREX which I was privileged to chair the planning committee, ” he stated.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the  convener of the Discourse, Kelvin Kagbare, rued establishment of universities and institutions in maritime and transportation, invest in overseas training of young Nigerians while neglecting capacity utilisation of the institutions already on ground but without ships or national line to absorb the cadets.
Kagbare fumed at leveraging on international maritime labour market, whereas the country contributes little or nothing to growing the market, saying it is a disservice that should be addressed by the federal government with urgency.
Kagbare, who is the publisher of Maritime Nigeria, stated that Nigeria’s shipping development capacity index was almost nil, giving foreigners absolute control over internal trade and transportation which according to him, is unacceptable and should be changed.
“With many state governments showing interests in the development of deep seàports including Ondo State, one hopes that there should be purposeful engagement in this direction towards achieving a quick break in reinventing our ports and maritime transport economy.
“With the prospects that the completion of these deep sea ports will raise Nigeria hub status and actualise the dream of providing the needed logistics for the West African corridor and it’s landlocked countries such as Mali, Chad and Niger Republic, is a big deal that should be given the serious and urgent attention it requires.
“Building deep seàports is perhaps the easiest of the tasks, those driving the ideas should also make the effort to make them function u optimally as viable ventures,aside also conferring some measure of regional political power on Nigeria,” he submitted.


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