The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has blamed bad leadership of the government for the ills plaguing the maritime sector, stating that despite huge revenue generated by the industry annually, it is not getting the needed attention from the government.
Haastrup while speaking during second transport leadership lecture with the theme ‘Leadership in the Next Level Democracy: Striking a Positive Balance in Transport Sector’, organized by Kings Communications Limited, decried the deplorable port access roads and Apapa gridlock, which she described as a national disgrace affecting operations at the port, Haastrup said, it now takes longer time for vessels to discharge at the expense of the terminal operators.
She said: “It is unfortunate that the maritime industry is what is it is now. It brings me to tears when I see happenings in the sector. Federal Government is busy talking about generating revenue but they are not paying attention to where they can generate the revenue. I want to put the blame on government. The problem of this country is poor leadership. If we have right leadership, right policies will apply to every sector of the Nigerian economy.
“We are talking about optimizing digitalization and connectivity in transport sector, do we have it in Nigeria? No we don’t. Look at what Apapa and Tin Can Island has become over the years, shouldn’t we be crying as a nation? It is such a shame, a national disgrace to the federal government that access to the port have been abandoned for so long. I am not blaming this government but they are also part of it because they could have look for solution in four years.
“The governments generate billions through the Customs Service on a yearly basis and yet that is not sending message to the government that this is a sector they need to pay attention to. My company is suffering because the enabling environment is not just there. We run ten berths, but in a month, I could hardly do two shifts in a terminal of ten berths. The Port and Harbours bill, the Transport Commission bill they killed. When we took over in 2006, they told us that the Ports and Harbours bill will be passed within a year, but 14 years after, it is yet to be passed,” she said.
Speaking also at the event, a former Director, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and guest lecturer at the event, Ufom Usoro, said having an integrated transportation policy is the only way to achieving an efficient transportation system in the country.
She urged government agencies not to work in silos but to synergise with government to achieve the set target of a desirable transport system.
“Some countries, like Nigeria, though they have not yet published their integrated transport policy are on the way to doing it, which will provide a road map for managing all these mode of transport towards a specified target,” she said.