By Godwin Oritse and Godfrey Bivbere
THE Chartered Institute of Transport Administration, CIOTA Bill assented to by the President recently, has created a controversy in the Transport sector as stakeholders are accusing the President of bias as other Bills that were presented before the CIOTA Bill are yet to assent.
In this interview with Vanguard Maritime Report, President of the Institute, Mr Bashir Jamoh, said that the Bill went properly processed before the President assented it.
ON the passage of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration bill
First of all, I want to tell you that I am not new with the Chartered Institute of Transport Association of Nigeria. I was the deputy national president until February this year when our tenure ended and I was now elected the president of the Chartered Institute of Transport Association of Nigeria.
If you were there at the Rock view Hotel, where we did my investiture I made a promise and I pledged that the biggest hurdles that I want to cross is to make the institute chartered and in making the institute chartered, there are a lot of processes and procedures.
While I was the deputy president of Chartered Institute of Transport Association of Nigeria, the bill had reached second reading and I said that I was inviting every person to be part of the public hearing.
The procedure of passing bills
Now the bill of the Chartered Institute of Transport Association of Nigeria was among the numerous bills that the National Assembly wanted to clear before leaving the office. I implore you to go and read the process and procedure of passing bills and the issue of a public hearing or committing a bill to the general house. The second issue is why the bill was given an accelerated assent before others that were there before ours. Do I know all the House of Representatives members and the senators to influence them at the time of the public hearing or at the time of committing the bill to the larger house? I do not know them, they have their own processes and procedures. So it went through due process and procedure and was passed by the National Assembly.
Are you saying that you in no way influenced the process of the bill?
Not at all, not in any way. I know I promised as the president of the Chartered Institute of Transport Association of Nigeria that I would make that institute chartered and my happiness is that I got that charter. I would give you step by step the dates of passing that bill by the National Assembly, the day the bill was passed to the Presidency. On that day Mr President considered 17 bills out of which he returned some and some were not returned. So where did I influence any bill? It is a normal process.
Now the bill has been passed and it is time to work. What is the next thing since the major goal has been achieved?
Now we have settled down (that means you did not participate in our press conference). We have organized a press conference and we have given our blueprint. How we intend to produce the best quality human capital in terms of management of transport. If you look at the Act, it provides the administration and management of transport as well as training. So, we have prepared our road map, we have released it to the press, in terms of sea transportation, road transportation, air transportation, rail transportation as well as pipeline transportation. We have developed that road map so what we are trying to do now is to constitute the governing board as enshrined in the bill by Mr President.
What effect does transportation have in the economy in terms of finance? Then what are the problems/challenges and what can be done about it?
The target of the institute is to ensure an effective and seamless process of each sector of transportation- airborne transport, rail, as well as the pipeline. The challenges we face in road transport is being looked at critically and we are now trying to proffer solutions in terms of policy formulation and also assisting the government in providing occasional hands that would assist the government when it comes to road transport. Similarly, in air transport, we have that. And I told you that we have tried to assign particular modes or forms of transportation and we would concentrate in particular zones. For instance in the south-west zone. This is an area where the issue of sea transportation is very urgent When you come to areas such as Delta and the Northcentral areas, there are a lot of economic activities in terms of mining. If you look along the Edo-Okene axis you would notice a lot of mining activities.
We have to be able to see what we can do to be known in terms of pipelines. There are also lots of pipeline activities when it comes to excavated cement products. We have lots of challenges also in pipeline transportation. Look at the situation of the present president putting pipelines in place for the transportation of petroleum products in Suleja around Niger axis. We have one in Zaria we have one in Gusau, we have one in Maiduguri whereby you can pour petroleum products through the pipeline and send it to such areas but at the end of the day due to security challenges we can not utilize them.
Now the private sector, particularly BOAS operations located around the Edo axis, are now transporting raw materials through the pipelines. That one is part of our road map and we would see what we can do to improve and enhance that. But though the distance may not be as accurate as we have and we are yet to get to the advanced stage where for instance if you want gas in your house for instance, instead of you to buy cylinders, you can be able to get pipeline gas. We made this roadmap known and we are now keeping our eyes and our indicators on how the Nigerian public would get this public good that is where we are now.
Are you still going to be involved in sanctioning people who run part of our transport laws?
You know the institute is basically a professional institute. Our institute is taking care of the human capacity area and professional area. So if you are a professional and we sent you to do certain things, we will monitor to see if you are unable to perform the prerequisite things that would make us achieve our goals and objectives. If you register with us but are unable to do certain things expected from a professional then we can sanction you as a registered member.
Another issue is the issue of tank farms, you know in the past there were no tank farms. They used to pipe petroleum products. A lot of people have said that one of the major problems is the tank farms and have advised that government reverts to the way things used to be done. What do you think about it?
This is because previously pipeline transportation had loads of problems hence the emergence of tank farms. How can we revive the pipelines so that the tank farms can go away? The issue of tank farms has to deal largely with the deregulation of the petroleum sector so it doesn’t affect the government. The private sector is the ones given the licence to operate the tank farms. Basically, as you mentioned, tank farms are very new in our own system.
If I say new it means that it is something that is not more than one and a half decades ago when we had laws put in place that tank farms can be operated by private individuals. The legal framework for the operation of tank farms is highly dependent on the operators and regulators of that sector which is supposed to be the DPR. But as I told you earlier when we start introducing our own blueprint, the human capital element would be our concern. Since the professionals will be registering and we would be giving them guidelines on what they should do when they register with us, they will be told what they are expected to do when it comes to implementation of the issues that concern tank farms and other inter-model systems in the country.
Let us look at the Maritime transport sector, what are the challenges faced and what can be done to improve on it?
Well, the challenges in the maritime sector are enormous. First of all, when you look at the Apapa gridlock it has to do with the influx of the population and the size of our ports. I am talking in terms of my understanding of the sector. The capacity for Apapa and Tincan island when you look at its inception used to be very much lower. Now, they exceed more than 80 per cent of the capacity we have. So you can imagine the overpopulation. We established those ports in the seventies. Compare the population of Nigeria in the seventies to that of today and you also look at the infrastructure. These are our own size of the economy and what we have today. So, we need large ports for us to be able to compete in the normal global standard in terms of African ports and our near borders like Benin Republic, Togo. You can see most of them took away our imports due to the lack of efficiency and effectiveness of our own ports.
Relocation of containers
If we try to relocate the containers to gridlock free places or to more appropriate places, up to 40 per cent of the gridlock would reduce. We would leave opportunities for people to invest through the establishment of ports. Our coastal line from Apapa to Badagry is spacious enough and should be good enough for the purpose of relocation. The Badagry port is coming despite the challenges, the Lekki deep Port is also coming, The deep seaport is also coming. The institute would do its best to help the government in policy development and also in addressing transportation issues.
Are you not concerned that we are building a deep seaport and having a refinery at Lekki but, the government is not thinking of any intermodal system?
Are we not creating another Apapa traffic? Well, if you were in Abuja last year when this issue came up during the seminar organized by the NPA. Mr. President was present there and he said that all roads be connected to the rail So the government is thinking of that moreover the institute will also concentrate on the intermodality of transportation in Nigeria.
We wish to achieve the vibrancy of each of the transportation sector in Nigeria but most especially the pipeline sector as it seems to be the most forgotten. We intend to interconnect each sector. We at the Chartered Institute of Transport Association of Nigeria have members in each of the sectors of transportation. The job of the institute is predominantly to train its members.