Public Hearing on Ports Decongestion Commences, as NAVY, NPA, NIMASSA and NIWA Come Under Fire
The Ad hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives to “determine why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar and Onitsha Inland ports complexes are not being put to maximum use” started public hearing yesterday, Thursday, August 15, 2019. Civil societies, MDAs, maritime stakeholders, security agencies and other interested members of the public were in attendance.
The stakeholders in their various submissions listed poor infrastructure at the ports, lack of motorable inter state roads, shallow waterway channels, and security as the major problems causing the underutilisation of the Eastern ports.
In his submission, Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Ibezi, a member of the Ad hoc committee and sponsor of the motion noted that the Apapa gridlock is a national disgrace, and that stakeholders should be more concerned with proferring solutions than listing the problems, as these problems have been known for years. He maintained that finding solutions is the main reason for the institutiom of the committee. Ibezi bemoaned the fact that the Nigerian Navy is still using the British hydrographic Chart of 1903 as mentioned in their submission.
He also challenged the stakeholders to be more proactive in proffering solutions to the problem, as we must get it right this time by ensuring that the Eastern ports are put to maximal use.
In the course of the hearing, the NPA, NIMASSA, and NIWA came under fire of the committee as each claimed responsibility for the removal of wrecks in the waterway channels. Interestingly each of these agencies budget and receive allocations independently for the removal of the said wrecks. In his clarification, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transport, Sabin Zakari explained that this is caused by the overlapse in the Acts that that established these agencies, and an urgent amendment is needed to rectify this.
The chairman of the Committee, Hon. Baba Yusuf Yakub assured Nigerians that the Committee is committed to ensuring the decongestion of the Lagos ports and the full utilisation of the Eastern ports.
The ad-hoc committee shall also hold public hearings with stakeholders in Port Harcourt, Onitsha, and Lagos in a bid to ensuring a holistic approach towards solving the problem. The committee also plans to visit all the ports concerned.
It will be recalled that following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Anthony Ibezi on Tuesday, July 18, 2019, the House of Representatives set up a 14-man ad hoc committee with Hon. Baba Yusuf Yakub as its Chairman. Other members of the committee are Hon. Ifeanyi Ibezi, Hon. Makama Missau Ibrahim, Hon. Onuh Blessing Onyeche, Hon. Haruna Maitala, Hon. Victor Amela, Hon. Nuhu Yakubu Danja, Hon. Aliyu Ibrahim Almustapha, Hon. Alex Egbona, Hon. Akiolu Moshood Kayode, Hon. Kolade Victor Akinjo, Hon. Olayide Adewale Akinremi, Hon. Kalu Benjamin Okezie and Hon. Suny Goli Isreal.
The committee is to seek ways of restoring the full use of Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar and Onitsha Inland ports in order to decongest Apapa and Tin Can Island ports.
The ad-hoc committee is expected to report back within six weeks with its findings for further legislative action.