By Godfrey Bivbere
Minister of Transport,Â Â Â Alhaji Ibrahim Bio has said that the ministry would soon put in place a development plan for both the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Speaking at the public hearing on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) by the House Committee on Customs in Abuja recently, the Minister said that the two agencies have for long operated without focus.
Bio accused the management of both agencies of being reactive to development in their area of operations rather than proactive. He pointed out that the two parastatals only waited 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 â€œno clear cut policy on what they are suppose to do, they are more reactive in their operations.â€
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.Â 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 70â€™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.
On the issue of midstream discharge of imports which the committee members frowned at, the Minister told the legislators that in compliance to the directive of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for stoppage of all practice (apart from two concessions granted), he had early this year instructed the management of the NPA to adhere fully to it.
However, the committee members also demanded from the minister to know why the practice should not be stopped all to gather. To this end, the Executive Director in charge of Marine and Operations of the Authority, Aina Egharevre, who accompanied the minister, explained that there are occasions were large vesselsâ€™ shipping in Nigerian bound goods and are unable to berth because of shallow draft of the nationâ€™s ports.
She further told the law makers efforts are on to dredge the channel leading to the ports in Lagos to about 13.5 meters in the first phase.