The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, says the nation’s ports are now attractive and calls on the investors to improve on their patronage.
Ms Bala-Usman made this known during a three-day training for Maritime Reporters and Editors on Data-Driven Journalism with the Theme; “NPA and Ongoing Reforms’’ held in Lagos on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the training was organised by Premium Times Training Academy in collaboration with the NPA.
According to her, the developing nations of the world are presently faced with the challenges of industrial growth and development, which can be assessed through the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country.
She said that Nigeria was not an exception, saying that maritime stakeholders had called on relevant authorities to tap from the numerous potential and opportunities Nigeria could benefit from its location within Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The commissioning of the Command and Control Communication and Intelligence Centre for NPA will serve as surveillance of all activities and as an information network centre for security agencies in the ports.
“Acquisition and commissioning of four new tug boats namely MT Daura, MT Ubima, MT Uromi and MT Majiya in order to further improve operational efficiency.
“Upgrade of 25-year Port Development Master Plan. Transformation of the Authority’s manpower development practices to improve the skill, knowledge and capacity of employees.
“Accomplished the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) for the reconstruction of the port access road.
“Just yesterday, we commissioned a Simulator Centre for the training of our pilots, which have enabled us to train 96 pilot trainees within four months.
“As we move forward at further repositioning the sector through our operational diligence by the help of Ease of Doing Business, I call on the media to increase partnership to navigate through the troubled waters toward maximising the benefits of the sector,” she said.
She assured major players in the maritime industry that the Authority would explore optimally the area of revenue generation and job creation to the benefits of the Nigerian populace across board.
The NPA boss said the management of the agency intended to vigorously enforce all standards for greater efficiency and service delivery, saying that the authority sincerely need media support in this regard.
She explained further that NPA strongly believed it could not have achieved these alone without media support for improved safety, environmental protection, operational efficiency and improved service delivery among others.
“With this certificates, our sector through the NPA is experiencing reduced operational expenses, better management control, increased customer satisfaction, improve customer service and most importantly our port is now attractive to investors for national growth and developments,’’ she said.
She said that the benefit would fast track the growth of the nation’s revenue through international trade.
“Before the implementation of the reform of the sector by the Federal Government in 2006 through the concession of the ports to terminal operators, the sector was faced with numerous challenges, which did not allow for operators to function at optimal capacity in line with international best practices.
“I stand before you today and emphatically make bold to inform you that with your unalloyed loyalty as the watchdog of the sector; we have recorded tremendous progress at all fronts at ensuring that the sector competes favourably within Sub-Saharan Africa, Gulf of Guinea and most importantly before the international community.
“The Management of NPA was recognised by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO 9001 and the OHSAS 18001) Certification for our positive step toward moving the sector to the next level,” she said.
Bala-Usman commended the media and organisers for putting up the event and most importantly choosing the theme, which would have greater benefit across board.
Adams Jatto, the general manager, NPA Corporate and Strategic Communications, said the management had a three-tier short, medium and long term solutions to the gridlocks on port access roads.
Jatto said that NPA management partnered with the private sector in making the Apapa axis passable.
He said that in the medium term, articulated vehicle parks were being built and there would be an automated call-up system to monitor traffic.
According to him, NPA is partnering with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in rehabilitating all the roads from Tin-Can Island Port to the Lagos ports.
Jatto said in the long-term was the issue of rail connections to take goods from ports to the hinterlands.
“Nigerian Shippers’ Council is trying to have dry ports, where containers can be taken to hinterlands,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Premium Times Group, Dapo Olorunyomi, in his address of welcome, said it was important to understand the strategic importance of the maritime sector.
Olorunyomi described the maritime sector as so strategic and required quality journalism.
He said it was imperative to educate journalists as NPA handles the issue of port reforms.