By Lucy Ogalue
The Federal Government on Tuesday underscored the importance of capacity building in the growth and development of the country’s maritime industry.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki said this at the 16th International Maritime Seminar for Judges held in Abuja.
“It is a common knowledge that most of our maritime transportation is conducted by foreign ship owners.
“Thereby limiting the economic benefits accruable to the nation and the sub-region in areas such as creation of jobs, freight and insurance earnings etc.
“ It is in the above regard that the development of a national fleet becomes imperative.
“The present administration is looking into ways of encouraging the establishment of a private sector-driven national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potential in our maritime industry.
“ A Ministerial Committee has been working on this important initiative and I look forward to having their concrete recommendations for immediate implementation.,’’ Saraki said.
Represented by the Director of Procurement in the ministry, Mr Hussein Adamu, Saraki said the government was ready to implement various initiatives on the ease of doing business, including in the maritime sector in order to open up all the potential of the Nigerian business environment.
“May I reiterate the commitment of the Nigerian government towards the implementation of various initiatives on the ease of doing business, including in the maritime sector in order to open up all the potential of the Nigerian business environment.
“I am also pleased to state that following the recommendations of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council’s communiques, the government has geared up efforts to sanitise and foster global best practices in port operations.
“And in this regard has developed a working document called the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) and constituted an Inter-Agency Task Team led by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council for its implementation.
“The NPPM reflects the internationally acceptable processes in port operations by spelling out a step-by-step processes and specific roles of government agencies and private operators at all levels in the port.
“The process of ensuring the gazzetting of the Process Manual in order to give it the requisite regulatory teeth is ongoing.
. “That step will further complement the critical role of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the Port Economic Regulator in our jurisdiction.”
According to him, government will continue to support the NSC in this role in order to ensure the smooth, effective and successful implementation of the mandate given to it.
The Chairman of the occasion, Hon. Justice Bode Vivour said the seminar provided a specialised form for the judicial officers to be equipped with requisite skills and knowledge as a means to an efficient and effective judicial resolution of maritime cases.
He said:“The judiciary as we all know, is the lifeline of democratic societies. The need to strengthen our respective judiciary cannot be overemphasised.
“ A strong and independent judiciary, which practices international best standards, promote stability, protects rights, and guarantees fair and expeditious outcomes.
“Judiciary’s importance pertains to the political and social life of the people and acts as a catalyst for economic change and development of a nation.
“An effective judicial system is a key pillar of an efficient economy and plays a vital role in a nation’s economic performance.
According to him, a strong and independent judiciary which decisions are rendered fairly transparently within reasonable time limits and in accordance with international recognises norms, encourages foreign as well as local private sector investment.
The three days seminar was attended by Chief Justices of Sierra leone, Ghana, Kenya and the Gambia who gave their goodwill messages.
Others who were in attendance included stakeholders in the maritime and judiciary sector.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Grace Yussuf