8th June, 2012
The Federal Government has its heart firmly set on developing a number of deep seaports to ease the pressure on existing ports facilities in the country.
Assurance to this effect came recently in keynote address by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, as the three-day 12th Maritime Seminar for Judges opened in Abuja.
Such commitment, according to Umar, was meant to promote international trade and transform Nigeria into a hub for West and Central Africa.
The minister explained that, already, the development of Lekki deep seaport by the firm, Tolaram, in collaboration with the Federal and Lagos State governments had since commenced, while discussions had reached advanced stage on the development of Ibaka Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom State, as well as the Badagry deep seaport to be executed under public private partnership (PPP) arrangement.
“There is equally great potential in the development of Olokola Deep Seaport in Ogun and Ondo states,” Umar said.
He said that government was also committed to the dredging of the Calabar Channel, Cross River State, adding that the contract for the dredging will be awarded this year.
He also said the contract for construction of break waters at Escravos, Delta State, would be awarded this year.
The minister said the development of Koko Port in Delta State “is sine qua non to the realisation of the gas revolution in the country.”
He said that accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Transport is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and private investors to expand the port.
Umar also said that government was vigorously carrying out the total rehabilitation of the existing narrow gauge rail lines.
“Indeed, over 90 per cent of the existing 3,505 kilometres narrow gauge rail line is being rehabilitated, while efforts are on in the construction of the modern standard gauge rail lines,” the minster said.
He said that it was quite commendable that the maritime seminar for judges had received international acclaim and acknowledgment.
“This enduring partnership between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Judicial Institute had become a veritable forum for updating the knowledge of our judges and lawyers on contemporary and sometimes recondite issues of admiralty law,”’ the minister said.
He noted that over the years, the seminar has had tremendous impact in the areas of key policy decisions of government, maritime legislations and judicial decisions.
Umar said that the on-going seminar would focus on key areas that were considered critical to the development of the maritime sectors with associated economic potentials.
He listed the topics for discussions to include: Arrest of ships and unlawful acts at sea; Cabotage implementation; Pollution and wreck removal; Evidence Act addressing electronic bill of lading, fundamental issues in marine cargo claims and a number of contemporary issues in maritime law that our judges need to be vast in.
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Aminu Tambuwal, commended the organisers of the seminar for updating the knowledge of judges, lawyers and other stakeholders on admiralty law. Tambuwal said that this was testimony that the seminar must be taken serious by the National Assembly.
By Esther Komolafe