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Game-changing railroad investment in maritime affairs – NPA MD



Game-changing railroad investment in maritime affairs – NPA MD

By Ephraims Sheyin

Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting director general of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said the massive investment that had revitalized the Nigerian Railway Corporation had “changed the game” in the maritime sector.

“I must congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for having invested so much in reviving rail transport. It’s really exciting that he’s focusing on this key sector of the economy.

“I would like to thank him especially for the recent completion of the rail system in the port of Apapa. We believe this is a game-changer.

“We worked with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to see how the freight can be moved. The interest is to see how the cargo can reach the inland dry port.

“There are meetings between West African Container Capital in Onne and APMT; it’s about helping those inland containers to make sure they reduce double loads once the cargo arrives.

“That of the APMT, we hope to start moving the goods inland by train. It has started but we are working with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to give the right window so that once the train arrives, the cargo is loaded on the correct train without delay.

“Discussions are also underway to see that the rail system finally goes into the can. This is the responsibility of the Nigerian Railway Corporation. They took trains to a few terminals for testing.

“The fact that the railway was already in the port made the problem half resolved. But they need to investigate which buildings need to be destroyed to create space for the train. The ports are very old, they were not intended for a train going around all the terminals, ”he said.

Bello-Koko expressed optimism that a functioning rail system would facilitate the transport of items and improve many other activities.

He also spoke about the measures the NPA was adopting to encourage the use of other ports in Nigeria.

“What we did first was provide stakes for the shipping lines from the ports of Calabar, Warri and Rivers.

“We gave the most to Calabar and Delta. The idea here was to take their ships to these places. It worked a bit, we also specified the type of ships that would come and benefit from these discounts.

“We had stakeholder engagement to encourage importers to bring their ships to these locations. We have provided more marine services to these locations.

“But the use of these ports depends on the importer. You cannot force an importer to bring their goods to Calabar or Warri.

“For example, a lot of the incoming cargo, the use of the cargo is in Lagos, so there must be enough incentives for the importer to bring their cargo to Warri and then bring it back to their factory in Lagos. .

Some of the issues revolve around the roads as well; you cannot import to Calabar and bring it back to Lagos becomes difficult. We had to write to the Department of Public Works regarding the Ikom Bridge to encourage people to use the Port of Calabar.

“The port of Calabar is the closest to the northeast of the country. So if we encourage the use of this port, it means that all imports to the northeast go through Calabar.

“The problem there is that it has the longest canal and going through the canal is very expensive. We encourage the use of these ports and we encourage shipping companies to bring their goods to these ports. “

Regarding alleged corruption in maritime operations, he said the NPA has always strived to keep its books clean.

“The NPA has always ensured that the issue of corruption is dealt with strictly.

“We are one of the first agencies to have an open budget system for overtime. We have also signed with the Action Group against Corruption.

“We have a department responsible for dealing with issues related to corruption. We are more open.

“As Interim Director General, the best I will do is ensure openness and ensure strict adherence to government rules, regulations and policies.

“If we find out that any of our workers are engaging in corrupt practices, we have penalties and sanctions set out. “

On his vision for the port industry, Bello-Koko said he was working on a renewed NPA with better automation and more marine equipment.

“I look forward to an NPA with more recent port facilities which I believe will be achieved.

“We expect the new Lekki deepwater port to come on stream by the second quarter of next year. Badagry Sea Port supporters are more serious and have seen the urgency to move forward.

“We have a 25-year port master plan that will soon be completed. The essence of it is to get the nation to make decisions on the best locations for ports.

“In five years, we will have an NPA with better facilities, more marine equipment offering 24-hour service, a more robust infrastructure and less human interference.

“Over the next five years, we will recover some of the freight traffic that we have lost to other countries due to inefficiency.

The deep sea of ​​Lekki will be able to accommodate larger ships, so this idea of ​​a mother ship staying somewhere in Lomé will stop because these large ships can now come and dock in Nigeria.

“Imagine if Badagry comes in, and this is only the first phase of Lekki I’m talking about. By the time they wrap it up, we’ll have bigger ships coming into the country.

“We are modernizing the ports; the discussions have started, so now we are left with the question of financing and business models and viable options to take.

“This means that here in Tincan and Apapa there will be improved harbors over the next five years.

“The (transport) minister keeps asking questions about the deep waters of Lekki and the launch of the deep water port of Badagry. He is also pushing for the finalization of discussions and plans for the construction of all of the Apapa and Tincan terminals.

“He shares our visions and works closely with us. Our collaboration with the federal government will pay off a lot. The maritime industry is getting all the support it needs to soar, ”he said. (NAA)

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