The federal government has restated its commitment to rebuilding infrastructure that supports multimodal means of transportation from the ports to the hinterland.
This is in a bid to boost economic activities from various part of the country and serve as avenue for the generation of ideas that would aid national economic growth
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the assurance while declaring open the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) ,Africa Regional Conference today at the congress hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel and towers Abuja.According to him, the theme of the conference ‘African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity’ is very germane and coming at a time that national leaders on the continent are pursuing the course of continental integration with all vigour.
President Buhari also stressed that interconnectivity will improve the country’s economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth.
‘I have directed that every port must have the complement of rail infrastructure. Our projections are that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route’’.He commended the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, whose Managing Director ,Ms Hadiza Usman doubles as Regional Vice President of the International Association of Harbour and Ports for accepting to host this very auspicious conference.
‘’It is particularly gratifying that it is at the time that Nigeria has the privilege of the vice presidency of this important body that the idea of a continental conference is coming up for the first time. This is a testament to our commitment to the even development of the continent and its maritime industry in this particular instance.
On the challenges facing the maritime industry, President Buhari noted that Nations in Africa are largely connected by the same developmental challenges as well as large human capital and natural endowments.He called on African leaders to work together and deploy her rich resources towards solving those issues that militate against efficient trade in African ports.
‘’Now, one of the resources that we can proudly speak about as Africans is our maritime endowments. A situation in which at least 39 of the 54 countries on the continent are either littoral or island states makes the formulation of policies for the effective utilisation of our waters for the growth of our economies expedient.’’ ‘After the issues of adequate security and transparency, the one other important factor deciding the competitiveness of ports is that efficiency with which cargoes are evacuated to and from the ports. This, without doubt is an area in which port operations in Africa needs a lot of intervention’’. The president stated
He also said that serious level of attention is being given to the improvement of road infrastructure. ‘’At the moment, 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across the six geo political zones of the country. Just as we have insisted on the stimulation activities on our inland waterways. Major inland river channels are being dredged with adequate channel markings for ease of navigation all the way through the Easter and Northern parts of the country. That is the only way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the maritime industry.
In his opening remarks the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi said that the present administration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is unequivocally committed to the optimal development and utilisation of the nation’s port potentials.
According to him ’’our desire in Nigeria is to have ports that are not just part of transport and logistics supply chains in themselves, but Ports which are landlocked transit corridors and directly connected through rail to the inland Dry Ports for efficient evacuation of cargoes. We are as a result committed to developing the intermodal transport system as a mechanism to reinvigorate the conveyance of maritime logistics’’.
‘’The task of opening up the hinterland where the largest population of our people resides and where most of the agricultural produce are domiciled becomes a challenge that requires urgent response which this administration has provided and we are totally determined to strategically link up the thirty- six (36) state capitals with the Federal Capital, Abuja with standard gauge rail services.’’
Earlier speaking in her welcome address the Vice President ,International Association for Ports And Habours (Africa) and Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman stated that Africa holds a special place in the global maritime space, with 39 of the 54 countries on the continent endowed with littoral assets, the development of the continent is to a large extent, tied to the optimal exploitation of its vast maritime resources.
She noted that as brothers and sisters on the continent who are affected by relatively identical limitations and concerns, this conference provides opportunity to explore ways of cooperation for the development ports and the economies of our countries.She said that IAPH was established in 1955 to promote the development of ports and create a worldwide synergy for effectiveness amongst all member countries through strong member relationships.
In the 63 years of its existence, the association has grown into a global alliance representing 180 Members Ports and 140 Port related businesses in 90 countries. The IAPH promotes collaborations and information-sharing which helps to resolve common issues and continually improve on service of ports to the maritime industries.
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