Heads of maritime agencies in Nigeria have agreed to work on modalities for a quick commencement of 24 hours operation at the ports.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, disclosed this on Tuesday in Lagos while briefing the media after the second edition of the monthly meeting of heads of maritime parastatals, held at the NIMASA headquarters.
According to a statement signed by the agency's spokesperson, Philip Kyanet, issues bordering on maritime safety and security, port efficiency, intermodal transportation, as well as synergy among agencies in the sector were discussed.
Mr Jamoh said the forum of CEOs of the agencies had given the maritime industry a platform to grow and contribute more to Nigeria's economic development.
"This meeting is the second in the series and it has started yielding positive fruits. For instance, the issue of berthing the NIMASA floating dock, which has lingered for a couple of years, has been resolved through this meeting, and very soon it would be deployed for use."
He also said that the heads of agencies agreed to play their respective roles to facilitate the operation of 24 hours a day, seven days a week port services.
This, he said, would help to decongest the ports and tremendously impact on the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the federal government.
Mr Jamoh said the meeting constituted a committee to produce a workplan for the 24-hour port system and agreed to carry communities around the port environments along in order to ensure safe operations within the port vicinities and beyond.
"We are looking at the workability of 24-hour port services to ease the pressure on our ports in terms of congestion. We also agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on how the movement of cargoes from the ports can be done by rail to reduce the pressure on our roads.
"Our focus is also to ensure containers are moved by barges to dry ports outside the port environments. All these would help in the efficiency and effectiveness of our ports," he said.
Intermodal transport system
In her remark, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, emphasized the need for an intermodal transport system in and around the port environments.
She said Nigeria must prioritize intermodal transportation to reap the benefits of shipping and port activities.
She disclosed that the heads of maritime agencies agreed to work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to facilitate the movement of cargo from the ports by rail.
Also, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Moghalu, said safety formed a major part of the discussion.
He said all the maritime agencies had agreed to work together to rid the Nigerian waters of unsafe craft and practices that endanger passengers and other users of the waterways.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, said the new synergy among the heads of maritime agencies was a significant building block for efficient economic activities within the country's maritime domain.
He said the ultimate aim was to make Nigeria a maritime hub in Africa through efficient and effective maritime operations and infrastructure.
The monthly meeting, which was the second in the series, was also attended by the Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN), Sam Nwakohu; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Duja Effedua, who joined via zoom.