By Chiazo Ogbolu, Lagos.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, on Wednesday said that the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee (NFIC) had submitted its interim report on the establishment of a national fleet.
Sambo made this known in a statement issued by Dr Sam Idiagbonya, his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in Lagos.
The minister, while receiving the report, described as a misnomer the situation where Nigeria, a maritime-inclined economy, had to start looking for resources from the oil sector to boost its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) earnings.
Sambo had asked if the committee consulted stakeholders, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying: “This is because if NNPC can give 100-per-cent support, the matter can be closed in two months.”
Earlier, Mr Emmanuel Jime, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Chairman of NFIC, said that the committee was constituted by the immediate-past Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
He said that the objective was to implement the recommendations made in an earlier Ministerial Committee’s report on modalities for the establishment of a Nigerian fleet.
Jime, who was represented by Alhaji Umar Aminu, Managing Director, Sea Transport Group and member, NFIC, stated that the initiative was a way of responding to the non-participation of Nigerians in the carriage of Nigeria’s international cargo.
He noted that it was also to ensure that the usual loss of freight revenue, jobs and other benefits would come to an end.
“In the course of carrying out the mandate, lessons have been learnt and some modest achievements have been recorded. These have been captured in this interim report which we are submitting today.
“The work is still ongoing and the goal of creating an enabling environment for the growth of sustainable Nigerian fleet will be achieved in due course,” he said.
Jime noted that there were challenges that impeded the quick realisation of the project, as earlier envisaged, while stressing that shipping was international and competitive in nature and that Nigeria could not operate in isolation.
He, therefore, underscored the need to ensure that the operating environment met international standards.
“This has been a major challenge to the growth of the sector in Nigeria.
“Review of certain trade policies, access to funds and technical/human capacity are issues that need to be resolved,” he added.