Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has expressed the Federal Government’s readiness to explore the potential of the nation’s maritime resources to improve infrastructure at the seaports.
Amaechi said this in a keynote address sent to the celebration of “African Day of Seas and Oceans’’, in Lagos, on Monday.
The the celebration of the African Day of the Seas and Oceans is in furtherance of the declaration by the AU) Assembly of 2015 -2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans and July 25 of each year as the African Day of the Seas and Oceans.
The Minister of Transportation, who was represented by Director, Special Duties, in the ministry, Mr. Aminu Dutse, said that inland dry ports were being developed across the country to ease movement of cargo from the seaports.
“This is in line with our diversification programme aimed at repositioning the nation`s economy and reducing dependency of foreign patronage, thereby retaining our capital flight.
“The Ministry of Transportation has embarked on massive railway infrastructural development and upgrading.
“The motive is to bridge the gap between hinterlands and the oceans to link all the states of the federation to the international trade logistics chain through the seaports. It is only this way that prosperity through trade can reach all our people.”
The Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Maj.- Gen. India Garba (rtd), said the viability and sustainability of the oceans should be of importance to every person.
Garuba said, “We need to appreciate the fact that our seas and oceans harbour natural resources, which if properly harnessed and used responsibly can exponentially increase Africa’s economic prosperity, provide youth employment and fuel growth in other sector of the continental economy.’’
He called for collective efforts and cooperation by the stakeholders to tackle the menace of sea piracy and other forms of economic sabotage which occurred within the maritime domain.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said that the agency had considered it necessary to continue championing the awareness on Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and the Blue Economy through the hosting of the Day of Africa Seas and Oceans.
“As a continent, we must begin to put in place all the necessary measures to check issues of sea piracy and robbery; environmental degradation, marine pollution and unauthorised fishing activities.
“On the other hand, issues of ocean governance in terms of marine environment protection, fisheries monitoring, maritime economic growth, migration and trafficking should be given proper attention,’’ Peterside said.
Peterside said the theme for this year’s event, “Harnessing African Maritime Potentials for Sustainable Development’’, theme was very apt considering the fact that African seas and oceans held the key to unlocking the potential of the Blue Economy toward Africa’s sustainable development.
The director-general noted that Africa should be able to utilise the opportunities offered by the Blue Economy.
“The Blue Economy could be regarded as an ocean-based economy which includes fishing, agriculture, tourism, ocean energy that contribute to human well-being in an economically-sustainable way.
“I wish to note that the Seas and Oceans are central to the concept of the Blue Economy and important tools to achieving sustainable development in Africa,’’ he said.
Peterside said that increased investments would enhance the productive capacities of the economy which was actually the content required to urgently restore degraded resources and further develop others that had remained unutilised.
He commended the determination and purposefulness of African leaders for displaying “an unparalleled zeal and purpose” by developing the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy).
The director-general said that the agenda provided long term goals for wealth creation in consonance with the universal shift to Blue Economy.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Usman, said as the continent celebrated the 2017 African Day of the Seas and Oceans, the association for African Maritime Administration (AAMA) should pay attention to maritime policy and capacity by building across the board.
Usman, who was represented by Capt. Ihenacho Ebubeogu, NPA’s General Manager, Monitoring and Compliance, said attention should also be paid to marine spatial governance/administration; climate change, environmental protection and maritime security.
“In harnessing the Blue Economy, our relationship with the oceans and seas subjected us to coexist with all stakeholders for spatial parcel allocations which covers navigation right, public access right, fishing right, seabed use right, mineral right, riparian right and development right.
“Maritime spatial governance became necessary as this co-existence will raise legal issues that border around sovereignty, legislative jurisdiction, administrative authority and title or ownership,’’ she said.
Usman mentioned climate change, which she said called for inter-regional collaboration for effective monitoring, research development and robust regional data base.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, called for robust collaboration between all agencies of government to enable them to achieve the potential of the maritime industry.
Bello urged the agencies to focus more on transportation system which he described as the heartbeat of the economy.
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said some of the benefits of oceans and seas included contribution to poverty eradication by creating sustainable livelihood and decent work.
Mustapha said that over three billion people depended on marine and coastal resources for their livelihood.
“Also the oceans are crucial to global food security and human health just as they are primary regulator of global climate and host huge reservoir of bio-diversity.
“While activities abound in oceans and seas, it is of paramount importance that the shore interface, the inland waterways be considered as well, since the take-off and return of all activities in the oceans are linked to transportation, storage, pollution control and human involvement,’’ the managing director said.
He suggested the need to design a maritime development strategy that would involve improving service delivery by service providers in line with maritime global standards.
Mustapha also said there should be upgrading of the nation’s transport infrastructure like roads, rail and inland and intra-coastal waterways to facilitate intermodal connection.
He called for strengthening of institutional and regulatory capacities to ensure adherence to global standards.
The NIWA boss also noted that there should be adequate security in line with the International Maritime Organisation’s regulations for the safety of ships, crew and cargo.
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