By Godfrey Bivbere
National Assembly, NA has been charged to speedy up the passage of maritime related bills before it to ensure that Federal Government’s efforts at exploiting the potentials in sector becomes a reality.
Bills before the National Assembly awaiting passage include the Ports and Harbours Bill, the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Maritime Zones Bill etc.
Heads of Corporate/Commercial and Public Sector Group of Olisa Agbakoba Legal, OAL, Bisi Akodu, said the passage of the bills would have positive effect in achieving government plan to harness the resources in the sector.
According to Akodu, “Nigeria has approximately 60 legislative enactments comprising its maritime and shipping laws. There are also critical Bills before the National Assembly such as the Ports and Harbour Bill, the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Maritime Zones Bill etc. that if passed will have positive impact on the shipping sector.
“Of importance also is the need for an Oceans Act for Nigeria to harness the resources due to it as a sovereign coastal state. Now is the time to pass these Bills into law and lay out a strategic plan for reforming the maritime industry in the shortest time possible.”
She stressed that importance of shipping in international trade and pointed out that Nigeria is positioned to be the commercial hub for Africa if the right things are done.
She noted that the development of the maritime industry will lead to “a boost in international trade, development in port linked flows and all the associated ancillary services.”
She noted that the various activities of stakeholders “in the sector that have largely been uncoordinated often working at a tangent in uncontrolled confusion. Our ports are not yielding their full potential and are now being abandoned for ports in Benin Republic and Togo due to the multiplicity of official and private sector port charges. The low volume of traffic at our ports is a deep concern to Government.
“To tap into this huge revenue source will require a total overhaul of legislation, institutions and regulatory framework. The Nigerian Shipping Policy Act, the pilot law of the maritime industry, must be revised and re-branded to align with global maritime trends. A review of all legislation on maritime law is mandatory if we are to reform this sector to our advantage.