STAKEHOLDERS SET AGENDA FOR NEW TRANSPORT MINISTER
Smarting from the apparent shock of the recent appointment of what they refered to as 'an outsider' into the Transport Ministry by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, industry operators have advised the new Minister, Alhaji Yusuf Sulaiman, to ensure the industry is regulated by passing the Ports and Harbours Bill.
The stakeholders said the appointment of a core industry operator to take charge of the Ministry would have complemented the urgent need to move the industry forward in view of the short span of the administration which is expected to terminate in less than fourteen months time.
The Chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Val Usifo in an interview however urged that the new minister should work closely with the National Assembly to ensure that the bill has a smooth sail.
He said the minister has a lot of work to do, especially if he has no experience of the private sector which is expected to boost his knowledge in public administration.
Usifo said the minister should complete the works creditably done by the former Minister of Transport, Alahji Ibrahim Bio.
He said such works include the dredging of the lower River Niger; total support for Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure the success of the cabotage regime and increasing the nation's international maritime credibility.
Usifo also suggested that the in-coming minister should financially empower the parastatals to achieve their aims and objectives.
The President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr. Lucky Eyis Amiwero said to move the industry forward, the new minister has to surmount the problem of high cost of doing businesses in Nigerian ports.
Amiwero told newsmen that there were so many illegal charges at the ports, added to the avalanche of many government agencies competing to be at the ports, apparently for all the wrong reasons.
Asserting that the ports industry lacked the legal framework for now, he noted that the terminal operators had no regulator, thereby occasioning all manner of policy twists and turns which do not augur well for business.
According to him, the Port and Harbours Bill in the National Assembly should be passed on time, to take proper care of such anomalies, adding that the local content in terms of cabotage had not been fully implemented.
The former Nigeria's Alternate Permanent Representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Olu Akinsoji, however, criticized the choice of the new minister of transport, wondering why a professional like Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho was not appointed as the Minister of transport instead of The Interior portfolio.
According to him, a successful ship owner and a master mariner like Ihenacho with over 40 years successful experience in the business of shipping should have been given the transport portfolio and not the internal affairs as it were.
He said the easiest way is to put the mariner (Ihenacho) in a place where he can perform with his wealth of experience.
Akinsoji said with professionals at the helm of affairs, the heads of parastatals should be guided; adding that in the case of the transport ministry, the heads of parastatals might have to tell the minister which direction to take.