Maritime stakeholders have called for the inclusion of experts in the management of the newly-created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to meet set targets.
They made the call in Benin, Edo State, on Saturday during the 14th Annual General Meeting and Lecture of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA), which also served as an elective congress.
Delivering the keynote address titled “Urgent regulatory reform in the maritime industry: Setting the agenda for the new administration,” the Chairman, Benin River Port, Greg Ogbeifun, called on the managers of the new ministry to be ready to take advice and make the right decisions.
He said, “The new ministry has not started well. We wish industry practitioners were brought into the top leadership positions.
“We are grateful that President Bola Tinubu set up that ministry and they have appointed the people they want. We all have to help those that have been appointed. Hopefully, they are professionals who are ready to understand the sector and take the right decisions.”
He said the major problem of the seaports in the country is aging infrastructure, noting that there is no opportunity for expansion in the seaports.
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He lamented that development has encroached into the seaports and called for regulatory reforms in the sector to fix it.
He added, “The maritime industry is Nigeria’s economic centre of gravity and offers great opportunities for the growth and development of the nation.
“However, the industry is plagued with numerous challenges, including regulatory bottlenecks, poor maritime infrastructure, inadequate flag administration, security concerns, unfavourable fiscal policies, inadequate funding, and inadequate supply of skilled personnel to name a few.
“As Nigeria is getting to terms with new administration, the need for urgent regulatory reforms in the maritime industry is essential to set a robust agenda that will address the challenges and unlock the full potential of maritime and shipping industry in the country.”
Earlier, the President of NMLA, Funke Agbor (SAN), while commending the Edo State Government for its support for the meeting, said the association has been at the forefront of ensuring that maritime-related legislations and treaties, that the body is a signatory to, are domesticated to boost the industry, urging practitioners to explore the opportunities that the new ministry provides.
She added, “Now that the government has established the new ministry, it is for us to ensure that we take advantage, equip ourselves and equip all the clusters that make up the maritime industry so that government is made to create the enabling environment sufficiently for us to be able measure and take government on account of what they will do.”