The Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative (MAIN) has tasked the two committees of the National Assembly on marine transport to expedite action on the passage of the new Port Act which has been in the works for several months.
The House of Representatives committee on marine transport had about three months ago organized a public hearing which was highly attended by stakeholders in the maritime sector, but the non governmental organisation expressed shock that efforts of stakeholders who attended the public hearing are been wasted by the failure of the legislature to fulfill their own side of the bargain.
The group made its feelings on the delay known at a breakfast parley with maritime reporters in Lagos last week. The meeting was attended by members of the organization’s board of trustees which included: Messrs Sesan Onileimo, Kayode Solaru and Engr. Adams Asasiye Benson.
Speaking on behalf of the board, Mr Onileimo who is also the NGO’s executive director explained that the group which was recently incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) was established to address issues that are affecting the nation’s maritime sector.
“When the House of Representatives organised a public hearing a couple of months back, the believe of maritime industry stakeholders who eagerly heeded the lawmakers’ call to attend the public hearing was that their efforts and collaboration would soon culminate into the passage of a new Port Act. But, rather than meet the yearnings of majority of members of the shipping community, it has been an endless wait for the National Assembly; particularly, the marine transport committees”, he pointed out.
“We are not in doubt that the lawmakers are aware of these, but, we are short of explanation as to why they have kept the draft bill on the shelf more than three years after the first set of ports were handed over to the private sector”, MAIN queried.
Emphasising the damaging effect of the non-passage of the bill to port operators, the body stated that “the absence of a new set of statutes that will protect the investments of private sector operators and also guide post-concessioning interplays is causing anxieties, systemic mistrusts and an unbalanced landlord-tenant relationship within the port system.
According to the NGO, the resent members of the marine committees should borrow a leaf from their predecessors who wee in that committee between 1999 and 2007.
Saying that the previous members were propelled by patriotism, hence, “both the Cabotage Act and the Act for the establishment of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria were passed in record time, in addition to several other nationalistic interventions. We are aware that apart from the new port legislation, there are many other bills that are in various stages of legal processes, many of which may end up not going beyond first (or at most second) reading”, the MAIN urged the present crop of marine transport committee members should “concentrate more on law making than on routine and apparently self-serving over sight functions and probes”.