“I don’t see any problems with the Federal Ministry of Transportation supervising ministries under its control”
The Director General of NIMASA; Dr Bashir Jamoh took time off the recent National Transport Summit which held in Abuja to interact with the media in his capacity as the President of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration, Nigeria. Our correspondent; Oluyinka Onigbinde was there. Here are some of the issues that came up
What is the mandate of the annual National Transport Summit and CIOTA as a body?
Our mandate at the Institute is to ensure that we look after the education, training and skill acquisition of the transport sector. Even though we have been established since the 40’s, but we were not chattered in Nigeria until June 2019, given the number of year, you can see its just three years. Last year, we had this summit and the year before, we had the same summit where we dwelt on so many areas that concern the maritime and transportation industries.
Our aim and target is for us to see how we can assist the government in developing sound policies to ensure that we have a firm transportation sector that would help in reviving and revamping our economy. Transportation is life, and life is transportation, there is nothing you can do without transportation, if you look at the human body system, the blood flows in the body through pipelines, this is also transportation, so there is nothing we can do without transportation.
What steps are you taking as regards resuscitating the failed and weak regulations in the transport sector?
Part of the mandate of the institute is to conduct research, and these weak regulatory policies, the institute would take it upon itself to study the policies that we have and the regulatory functions of each sector in terms of road, air, sea, pipeline and railway.
In conducting this research, we would bring out the areas that we consider as weak, because we have a number of policies that are long overdue for review. From time to time, when you are introducing a policy, you have the pre-policy formulation, there are key areas that you look at in developing such policies. By the time the policies have been formulated, you have to go into implementation and by so doing, you would see a lot of gaps coming out, at this stage, it is your duty to start aligning such gaps with today’s realities. Some of the policies we have in the transport sector are over 20 years old, so there is need for us to look at these areas and the gaps. As an institute, we cannot enforce any policy, we are just on advisory and advocacy to the government to improve.
Secondly, we also look at professionalism, those that are implementing the government’s policies, we must ensure that they are well-trained and educated. The areas that we have gaps in terms of professionalism, we develop curriculum for the institute that would address these gaps.
If you look at road transportation, you would have to understand the road networks we have in Nigeria, what are the requirements for you to have a standard road network? How many kilometers are you supposed to have? So, in developing policies for the road transport, we have the trunk ‘A’ roads which belong to Federal government, we have the one for the state government and local government responsibility in terms of road infrastructure.
At the Federal level, you have to know the total kilometers we have as a country and the kilometer we are supposed to have, that difference is now the gap which must be bridged. In so doing, we have to target that gap, this could be done under short term, medium term and long term plans.
The same method applies in the rail sector; you need to know how many kilometers of rail lines are needed and how many we have presently.
In the maritime sector where I belong, when I came onboard, the major problem we were experiencing at that time had to do with maritime security, so we tried to concentrate more on maritime security, and you would agree with me that the 3rd quarter report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) signified that we have made a huge progress in terms of maritime security, we are yet to get there but we would definitely get there.
If you take for instance, the maritime security itself, you must understand the problems on ground, and what you must have in terms of infrastructure to address the issues. For instance, we have the deep blue project, and this we have air assets which includes three helicopters, two aircrafts. On the sea assets, we have two ships stationed at the international waters, then we have seventeen fast interceptors for response purposes.
On land, we have 16 armoured vehicles. We also have air drones and the C4i.
The question now is – are these assets enough? If it is not enough, how many platforms do we require that would be enough for us to police our waterways? The difference now is the gap, and the intention of this institute is to carry out a research and make sure we understand that.
On the area of the pipelines, the pipeline transportation is the least utilised in terms of transportation. I remember that there was a company that was trying to pipeline Lagos State, they started from Ikeja up to Festac area, the way you open the tap in your house and you see water rushing, that was the same way they the company intended to run gas into homes, they are doing tremendous works. Today, we don’t have it yet, it is the duty of the institute to conduct research and educate government to institutionalise policies. Pipeline transportation does not stop on petroleum products alone; we want to see a situation where pipelines would be used to run gas into homes.
On the air mode of transportation, what do we have on ground, all the aircrafts we have in Nigeria are the ones belonging to the private sector, up till now we don’t have the National Carrier, the same applies to the sea transportation, we would have to conduct a research on the need for national carriers and what are the advantages of a national carrier, what type do we intend to have? Are we adopting the NLNG approach of 49-51? Or are we adopting a different policy. If we have the national carrier, we would not be quarrelling every day for war risk insurance to be removed from our freight, if we have the national carrier, it would determine the cost of freight, so if we take control of the freight, the demand and supply forces would take its course. At the end of the day, those who are placing war risk insurance, the national carrier would neutralise them by giving the adequate rate we are supposed to charge.
There is so much meddlesomeness on the part of the Ministry of Transportation, what is this institute doing to give NIMASA some level of autonomy like CBN?
On supervisory role by the Ministry of Transportation and comparing NIMASA and the CBN, you have to understand our own Act. The Act that established NIMASA is the one that gives the Ministry a supervisory role, so for areas that we feel is going to create a bottleneck, we have to look at these areas and review the Act. In removing such bottlenecks, I want to assure you that a review of the NIMASA Act has scaled second reading at the National Assembly.
Again, the supervisory role of the ministry is to ensure checks and balances of what the agencies are doing, and if you look at the Act establishing the Central Bank, the CBN Governor is the Chairman of Board of the Bank, it’s like saying that DG NIMASA is the chairman governing board of NIMASA.I don’t see any problems with the Federal Ministry of Transportation supervising ministries under its control, however, where we find it necessary to address certain bottlenecks, we would address it.
Any update on the wreck removal? Where are the wrecks warehoused?
The wreck removal is ongoing, the Bayelsa State Government, NIMASA and the Nigerian Railway Corporation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, we are yet to get to the level of execution of what we want to do.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation owned a foundry which is over 100 years old, as we speak now, the foundry is there, the machines and equipment are there and still working, what we intend to do is to bring a South African company to reactivate the foundry, NIMASA and Bayelsa State Government would now be the investors, we would invest money to bring new equipment and revive that foundry.
In doing so, we would be transferring the wrecks removed to that foundry where they would be melted and produce iron for the utilisation of the rail lines, the spare parts, bolts and nuts would be produced at the foundry at the same time creating huge employment.
We expect to create not less than 1,000 employment; presently the foundry still have their staff, when we went there for inspection, the staff were there, praying for the reactivation of the foundry, and we are determined to open that foundry.
The issue here is; what type of arrangement are we going to make? Given the parties concerned, certainly we have to go into public private partnership because we don’t want to waste the resources of government. If it is only NIMASA, we may likely use the resources coming out of that foundry the way they want, but if we have a partnership, between three years, if the foundry grows, we can go public and allow the public to manage it for effectiveness and efficiency.
I cannot tell you the number of wrecks removed so far, but work is ongoing, if we recover these wrecks, they are going to be transferred to the foundry for good utilisation.
Has there been any audit carried out by CIOTA on the Deep Blue Project, from when it was launched till now?
I don’t understand what you meant by the audit, I have just told you the number of vessels and aircrafts that we have on ground.
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In terms of success rate of the project
On the success rate, I have given you the IMB Report, the duty of CIOTA is to formulate and assist in advocacy and policy making, the policy has already been put in place for us to have the deep blue project and assets. I understand where you are going, and I have made mention earlier that CIOTA would have to go and study, now that we have the assets, we have to go back to the drawing board to determine, is it the entire asset we are supposed to have? what is the total number of assets we need to police our waterways? If we conduct this verification, we would be able to know the difference between what we need and what is required of us to police the waterways, and determine the gap in what we have.
This is the next line of action for CIOTA, we are going to take an inventory, not only the deep blue assets or water transportation, also the road transportation, how many kilometers of roads do we need to have and what we need to do to bridge the gap.
What is CIOTA bringing to the table in order to enhance AfCFTA?
We are members of AfCFTA, so whatever meeting they are having and the agenda, CIOTA also contributes, so it would be difficult for me to separate the success of whatever is happening there now as owned by CIOTA, the AfCFTA is a conglomerate committee that warehouse every sector, the success is not ours alone.
The only thing we can do is submit our delivered papers to the government as our own contribution.
Three years down the line, what are the challenges CIOTA is facing in terms of policy formulation and advocacy?
Like I said earlier, we are an advocacy body, we don’t formulate policies, we advise ,we don’t implement policies, when we feel that this is the best way to go on anything to improve the transport sector, we develop and hand it over to the government who would now look at it and implement. If the executive cannot implement it, then they would have to take it to the legislature. I can tell you that there are numbers of sound advises that we have given, but we are yet to get a policy enacted by the National Assembly for the utilisation of the transport sector.
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