The Akwa Ibom Government says it has entered into partnership with the Nigerian Navy to build both cruise and transportation boats to revive marine sector in the state.
The Commissioner for Transport, Mr Orman Esin, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Uyo on Monday.
Esin said the partnership would provide both alternative routes to land transportation in the state.
The commissioner said the Nigerian Navy had submitted a design of how the boats would look like and expected to complete the construction within one year.
Esin said, “We are in serious interface with the Navy to build both cruise and transportation boats that would be carrying people from Oron to Calabar.
“The design is on and since we don’t want capital flight, we will have the Navy to build the boat for us since they will give us internal security.
“I had a meeting with the admiral in charge of the dock and marine operations of the navy, along with the secretary to the state government, and commissioner for internal security.
“We are certain that as soon as we get a design and the approval of His Excellency for the design, the boat construction will commence.”
The commissioner further said that the navy gave the state government a delivery timeline of six months but the government opted for eight months.
”We are believing God that by the second quarter of next year, we should have a new ferry cruising on the shore from Oron to Calabar.
“Cargo is a midterm approach we are thinking about, where we will have a cargo ship that would be carrying cargo from Lagos down to Akwa Ibom. It would be easier and better for our people,” Esin said.
He, however, expressed displeasure that the state government had yet to tap the full potentials of the marine economy due to lack of extant laws.
Esin said that in the interim, the ministry of transport had concluded arrangements to inaugurate a Local Content Committee to harness the benefits of marine economy in the state.
He assured that with the creation of a Ministry of Internal Security, government would check insecurity along the waterways to encourage business transactions in the marine sector effectively.
“The blue economy is massive, it is huge and about the biggest economy you can even think of. We are talking about the blue economy here.
“I can tell you that in Akwa Ibom State, apart from PAYE and few taxes, which is nothing, the only thing we get from the marine sector is the PAYE.
“We have not been able to take advantage of as much as five per cent of what is accruing to Akwa Ibom state because we don’t have the law,” Esin said.
The commissioner said he was going to inaugurate the Ministry of Transport’s Local Content Committee on Tuesday because the extant law had yet to be enacted.
“So to strengthen the marine sector in the state, we need to have relevant law in place that will help us drive the process. We need marine security to help us secure the blue economy from sea pirates.
“If we are able to have extant law, have good security and good relationship with the community around the marine environment, I believe the marine sector in Akwa Ibom state will be something that we will be proud of,” he said.
Esin added that his plans for the ministry was to make it a model and sustainable transport institution, stressing that workers’ attitude was critical to establishing a successful institution.