Newly-inaugurated House of Representatives committee on marine transportation has raised hopes that the House will soon open debates on the abandoned Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) and National Inland Waterways Authourity (NIWA) bill.
The two bills were jettisoned last year by the previous National Assembly under controversial circumstances and raising criticisms from stakeholders.
But last week, at the inauguration of the committee, its returnee-chairman, Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi disclosed that the committee ahs already taken steps to ensure that files pertaining to the two bills were brought up for the attention of the legislature.
Honourable Ugwuanyi disclosed further that to achieve this, a ‘bills sub-committee’ that will be headed by Honourable CID Maduabum would be created with the mandate to prepare grounds for the review of existing bills on both NPA and NIWA.
Honourable Maduabum; apart form being a member of the marine transport committee, is also the chairman of the House committee on public petitions.
The National Assembly has been under criticism by interested parties for allegedly not doing enough tom see the two bills passed.
Recently, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had recently accused the legislature of delaying the long awaited concession of NIWA.
The face-off over the matter was reported exclusively by Shipping Position Weekly in its August 11th to 17th, 2008 edition in which the BPE lamented that even though the bill has been with the legislature since 2007, nothing has been done on it.
Spokes man for NIWA, Mr Chigbo Anichebe had told our correspondent that were it not for the foot-dragging on the part of the lawmakers, the agency would have been concessioned. According to him, the non-passage of the bill is scaring would be investors away from the concession deal.
But shortly after the BPE‘s outburst, a source close to the House committee on marine transport told Shipping Position Weekly that the BPE was being economical with the truth.
According to him, the bill never came to the National Assembly. “The BPE is not telling the truth, they know that the draft bill never left the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the consultants which the BPE got to draft the bill finished his work quite alright, but that was the end of it”.
Our correspondent confirmed that a law firm simply identified as Elias and Partners which was contracted to draft the new bill actually completed its work sine last year.
As for the NPA bill, it was dropped because of what the lawmakers described as the dangerous import of allowing the two ports structure that was being canvassed by the executive to sail through.
According to the chairman of the committee when the NPA bill was brought before the National Assembly, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, there was no way that it would have been passed like that.
Honourable Ihedioha who is currently the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives had told Shipping Position Weekly in its May 12th to 18th edition that the lawmakers had no choice than to drop the bill.
“We had the need to step it down over the controversies. Indeed it would not have survived second reading by the way and manner it was structured and the perception by members. When the bill recommended a Nigerian Delta Ports and Harbour Authourity and a Lagos ports and Harbour Authourity, obviously it suggested that that the Authourity, if so created will be the behest of people form those geopolitical zones and areas…….”, he had told Shipping Position Weekly in the back page interview.