The Minister of Transportation, Mr Mu’azu Sambo said that the Federal Government is not owing dock workers who were sacked due to the port concession in 2006.
Sambo stated this at the 34th Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) Anniversary and Awards which held in Lagos on Friday.
Sambo while speaking at the event with the theme: ”16 Years of Port Concession: The Pains and the Gains.” said that the only set of people that were not paid then were those working for the private sector, he added that they were given severance packages.
Sambo also emphasised that the Federal Government would remain committed to policies that would boost the development of the Port Community System.
“The government is embarking on many projects to help the maritime industry, the Deep Blue Project which will ensure the cost of importing cargo into the country is reduced.
“For the Lekki Deep Port, there is no reason we should have a replica of Apapa port there and so I have instructed the Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure no movement of cargo by road,” he said.
In his paper presentation, Mr Hassan Bello, the former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), noted that there is need for constant review and re-alignment of port concession agreement especially in the light of international trades in commerce.
The former NSC boss said the country cannot stop or even pause, as reforms must be continuous.
“The challenges are vast and varied but the prospects are enticing.
“The maritime industry must be comprehensively executed and strategically run as a fundamental economic factor with the target of contributing massively to the economic growth of the country,” he said.
Bello noted that the port reform in Nigeria was necessary, but crammed without regard to other sectors.
“The reform is critical, but not comprehensive and stands the risk of being derailed, curtailed, distorted or even reversed. This is because the legal framework is not dynamic and wholesome,” he said.
Bello said that the government must perform its part as a major driver of the reform.
“The government must build and enhance critical infrastructure in which the port reform is anchored.
“Those critical infrastructure must be deliberately sited to make for co-ordination and linkages, especially inland connectivity. Transport infrastructure cannot be located haphazardly or anyhow.
“The Federal Government must provide conducive operating procedure, ease cost of doing business and fight corruption that threatens to put brakes on reforms.
“The regulatory institutions must be assigned specific roles.
“Concessioning is give and take, the involvement of stakeholders is necessary not only in drafting agreements but in monitoring the tenets of the agreement,” he said.
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Also Dr Bolaji Akinola, who represented the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, said that the pains of the concession was the fact that people lost their jobs.
According to him, the pains should be ameliorated by the Federal Government, whatever that is due to them should be given to them.
“There are also gains in human angle as before the concession dock workers were casual workers and they go home with N1,500 but this has changed.
“To reap the benefits of the concession, ancillary challenges such as clearing processes and infrastructure issues should be addressed,” Akinola said.
Earlier, Dr Ade Dosumu, former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and Chairman of the occasion, applauded MARAN for their contributions in the maritime sector.
Dosumu, however, called for training of journalists, so as to get the best out of them.
The event also witnessed award presentations to Princess Vicky Haastrup, as the Face of Port Concession in Nigeria, and Dr Taiwo Afolabi, Maritime Person of the Decade, among others.
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