From left: Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority, George Moghalu, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, and the Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria Sam Nwakohu during the meeting of heads of maritime agencies held at NIMASA headquarters, Apapa, Lagos, Tuesday.

 Heads of government agencies in Nigeria’s maritime industry, notably the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Nigerian Railway Corporation  and the Nigerian Ports Authority have commenced a process that would enable the country’s seaports operate 24 hours as part of efforts to make them more efficient and globally competitive.

This is against the current practice whereby the ports open for business at 9am and close at 4pm Monday-Friday, (excluding public holidays), which is contrary to known international best practice where seaports operate 24hours of the day all through the year.

The heads of the agencies have also pledged to close ranks among themselves to evolve a more efficient and cost effective means of moving cargo in and out of the ports through a multi-modal transport system, which integrates all the transport modes comprising rail, road, sea and air.

Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who disclosed this Tuesday in Lagos while briefing the media after the second edition of the monthly meeting of heads of maritime agencies, held at the NIMASA headquarters, noted that these moves had become necessary to change the situation at the ports in terms of upgrading operational efficiency

Jamoh said the meeting also discussed issues bordering on maritime safety and security, port efficiency, intermodal transport system, as well as synergy among agencies in the sector. He said the forum of CEOs of the agencies had given the maritime industry a platform to grow and contribute more meaningfully to Nigeria’s economic development.

According to him, “This meeting is the second in the series and it has started yielding positive fruits. For instance, the issue of berthing the NIMASA floating dock, which has lingered for a couple of years, has been resolved through this meeting and very soon it would be deployed for use.

“The heads of the agencies agreed to play their respective roles to facilitate the operation of 24 hours a day, seven days a week port services, which would help to decongest the ports and tremendously impact on the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Federal Government”, the DG said.

Jamoh also said the meeting constituted a committee to produce a work plan for the 24-hour port system, and agreed to carry communities around the port environments along in order to ensure safe operations within the port vicinity and beyond.

He stated, “We are looking at the workability of 24-hour port services to ease the pressure on our ports in terms of congestion. We also agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation NRC on how movement of cargoes from the ports can be done by rail to reduce the pressure on our roads.

“Our focus is also to ensure containers are moved by barges to dry ports outside the port environments. All these would help in the efficiency and effectiveness of our ports.”

Meanwhile, Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, also emphasised the need for intermodal transport system in and around the port environments. Usman said Nigeria must prioritise intermodal transportation to reap the benefits of shipping and port activities. She said the heads of maritime agencies agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to facilitate movement of cargo from the ports by rail.

Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, said safety formed a major part of the discussion.  Moghalu said all the maritime agencies had agreed to work together to rid the Nigerian waters of unsafe craft and practices that endanger passengers and other users of the waterways.

Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, said the new synergy among the heads of maritime agencies was a significant building block for efficient economic activities within the country’s maritime domain. Bello said the ultimate aim was to make Nigeria a maritime hub in Africa through efficient and effective maritime operations and infrastructure.

In attendance at the second edition of the monthly meeting apart from the CEOs of NIMASA, NSC, NPA and NIWA were Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria CRFFN, Sam Nwakohu; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria MAN, Oron, Commodore Duja Emma Effedua (rtd), who joined via zoom.