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Minister issues ultimatum to maritime agencies

By Godfrey Bivbere
LAGOS — Minister of Transport, Ahaji Ibrahim Bio, has issued an ultimatum to agencies under his supervision to perform or get the boot while source close to the minister told Vanguard that a letter has been sent to President Umaru Yar’Adua for changes to be made in one of the agencies.

Vanguard learnt that the Minister handed down the ultimatum to heads of the parastatals at a meeting in Lagos last week.

The source noted that the minister is unhappy with the performance of all the parastatals under the ministry, especially in the maritime sector.

Before the meeting with the agencies’ heads, the source said the minister had earlier held a similar one with Directors in the ministry where he charged them to buckle up or be shown the way out.

The source also told Vanguard that the minister had sent a letter to President Yar’Adua for permission to sack one of the agency’s heads considered to be worse in terms of performance amongst all the others.

The source said the President was expected to have signed the letter three weeks ago but for the intervention of top members of the ruling party.

It would be recalled the Minister recently accused the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) at the public hearing on the Nigeria Customs Service by the House Committee on Customs in Abuja, of being reactive to development in their area of operations rather than proactive. Bio said the two agencies had for long operated without focus.

He pointed out that the two parastatals only wait for new development in their area of operations before taken action which he said was responsible for the recent port congestion in the ports in Lagos.

According to him, both agencies have “no clear cut policy on what they are suppose to do, they are more of reactive in their operations.”

Bio who promised to put in place a development plan before he leaves office, said the development plan would be in three phases of two, three and five years respectively.

He noted that lack of focus by the NPA is more pronounced with the development of the Tin-can Island port which became necessary as a result of the cement congestion in the late 70’s.

Similarly, the Minister explained that the development of Onne port was as a result of the huge import by oil companies for the operations which the conventional ports in the east could not handle.

He told the Committee members that the ministry was in talks with a consultant and an agreement would soon be reached by both parties for the consultant to commence work on the development plan.


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