By NBF News
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FEDERAL agencies in the Nigerian maritime industry have called for a fast tracked development of the maritime sector so as to attain the vision 20:20: 20 and improved the economic well being of Nigerians.

Head of maritime agencies and stakeholders who spoke at the just concluded Nigeria International Maritime Ports and Terminals (NIMPORT) 2011, which held in Abuja, harped  on the urgent need to complete all developmental projects in the sector.

Speaking at the event, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA0 Engr Omar Suleiman said that the efficient operations of the port system is critical to national economic development.

Suleiman who delivered a paper titled 'Ports Development Technologies and the Nation's Economy',

He noted that the roles of the nation's ports in national economic development include facilitation of trade and commerce, revenue generation,   industrial growth and development, employment generation and substantial contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.

He stated that some of the challenges, presently facing port development in Nigeria Include; absence of a commercial regulator for the port sector, lack of a functional inter modal system linking the ports and the hinterland by rail, land and inland waterways, Lack of functional and efficient off dock terminals, changes in fiscal policies and tariff structure

Speaking in similar vein, Managing Director of National Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA), Arc. Ahmed Aminu Yar'Adua, said that the dredged lower River Niger, would undoubtedly accelerate trade and improve water tourism by creating a reliable and safer access.

According to him with the dredging, future market will open up,  and also  improve accessibility of existing areas for boats, habour and inland ports developments.

'These would create avenue for investment and provide job opportunities. However, it is an established fact that Nigeria's Maritime sector (coastal and inland) is endowed with enormous resources which provide great potential and opportunities necessary to achieve sustainable growth and development of a modern and virile economy' he said.

Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman Organizing Committee of the event, Mr. Fortune Idu, said that NIMPORT was founded by FCI International Limited Consulting Group as part of her professional development programme designed to increase direct learning by hearing presentations from experts in the industry, networking with industry leaders, policy makers and discussing with manufacturers and researchers.

He explained that NIMPORT was meant to create a one stop place for the public review of the maritime sector and help to accelerate international trade, encourage healthy competition among players in the industry in line with international best practices.

In his words: 'Since inception NIMPORT has grown from almost ten-delegates gathering to hundreds of delegates attending, with outreach to over 1000 subscribers through journal publication and had hosted 15 visiting countries to our lovable city of Abuja.

'NIMPORT has remained the most diverse platform, created by a private company to enhance integration of the Maritime sector and other sectors of the economy; and it will continue to be the No 1 true flag carrier for the development of the maritime industry here in Nigeria and Africa in general'.