Policy Inconsistency, Infrastructure Deficit and Other IWT Growth Stunts | The Guardian Nigeria News
Policy incoherence, duplication of regulatory functions, infrastructure deficit, insecurity, insufficient human capacity and low investment are among the critical factors highlighted as impediments affecting the growth of air transport. waterway and associated companies in the country.
Other problems identified are sub-standard barges and boats, inadequate jetty equipment, high cost of operations, currency devaluation and under-exploitation of the inland waterway transport sector.
These problems as well as some possible solutions were explored during the first edition of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Maritime Mode Workshop on “Optimizing Inland Waterways Transport in Nigeria” which took place is held in Lagos.
House Waterways Committee Chairman Patrick Asadu remarked that the country has reached the point where it can no longer overlook or ignore the potential of inland waterways transportation.
He said that the inland waterway transport sector is grossly undervalued, underfunded, underutilized and faced with other problems such as insecurity, insufficient human and logistical capacity, unexplored canals, lack of maintenance and renewal of the fleet.
Asadu, who was represented by Member of the House of Representatives, Babatunde Hunpe, pointed to other issues that have challenged the growth of inland waterway transport and associated businesses in Nigeria. These, he said, include policy inconsistency, regulatory and inter-agency overlap, misconceptions about water transport and lack of critical infrastructure.
He said that while other modes of transport in the country have almost collapsed under the heavy pressure of problems related to insecurity, infrastructure deficit and lack of investment, among others, there is a need to revive interest in the inland waterway transport sector to attract the necessary investment. and remain operational in the most efficient and sustainable way.
Asadu described inland waterway transport as a major catalyst for social and economic integration, trade, agriculture, human capital index development and emission reduction.
Asadu, however, proposed a holistic development model to guide governments and private investors towards exploiting areas of comparative advantage and harnessing low-hanging fruit in the sector.
Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) Executive Secretary Emmanuel Jime said inland waterways play an important role in the maritime ecosystem and are critical to the economy if properly harnessed, especially as 28 of the 36 states of the Federation are connected by water. .
He pointed out the main problems that limit the country’s river transport sector to faulty barges and boats, lack of capital to purchase ocean-going barges, proliferation of piers without acceptable standards for cargo, inadequate handling equipment and the high cost of operations, among others.
Jime noted that the culmination of these challenges has deprived the nation of the optimal socio-economic benefits of viable river transport.
He said that given the peculiarity of the current economic and market situation, it is imperative to promote multimodalism to facilitate the movement of goods.
“As an economic regulator, there is an urgent need not only to ensure the application of regulations that will guide cabotage policy, but also to ensure the standardization of barges, jetties among other provisions that should promote safety, the efficiency and the overall efficiency of the sector.
“Therefore, appropriate regulations and policies must be adopted to drive logistics and supply chain management for cargo delivery,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the National Chairperson of CILT Nigeria, Mfon Usoro in her opening address said that water transport across the country has not reached its capacity especially with several challenges plaguing the area.
According to her, to run an efficient river transport system, there must be cargo, waterways, terminals and men to service the area.
“Now is the time to use our water transport efficiently. The industry can do so much to position Nigeria in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), using inland waterway transport,” she said.
Usoro further called on government agencies to agree on integrated transport planning to regulate traffic on the country’s waterways to boost trade and movement of people.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and Ecology, Lawal Hassan Anka, pointed out that inland waterway transport has relatively low air and noise emissions per ton, compared to other modes of transport.
He said inland navigation can help make transport more sustainable, especially when it replaces road transport.
“I want to draw our attention to the importance of generating resistance to investments in waterways to improve water quality or biodiversity and create valuable habitats.
“River traffic remains an ecologically preferable mode compared to road or rail transport. The expansion and development of waterways can have significant environmental impacts, mitigating or offsetting damage,” he said.
In his keynote address, the Director General of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, in his article titled: “The Policy Impulse of Inland Waterways Transport in Nigeria: The Involvement for sustainable development,” said despite the huge resources being invested in Nigeria’s inland waterways regarding the development of ports, jetties and ramps, funding and a well-articulated policy framework, through an Act of empowerment, are responsible for the persistent challenges in the sector.
He said that with the country’s natural water bodies vulnerable to the effects of flooding, with the associated loss of water from rivers due to siltation and bank erosion, inland waterways require three elements essential infrastructure projects, which include, developed waterway canals, safety and security on the waterways as well as the development of inland ports, terminals and jetties.
Moghalu said these developments will open waterways and activate private sector interest in investments to maximize the economic potential of the country’s rivers and water bodies as transportation assets.
Moghalu stressed that a deliberate policy for a viable multi-modal and integrated transport system, with expanded programs/performance of the inland waterways sub-sector, should be maintained as it has the potential to increase gross domestic product (GDP). ) from the country.
He also called for improving the stock and competitiveness of transport, increasing private sector participation and increasing transport.
The NIWA boss has suggested legislation on restricting the movement of classified and heavy goods on the roads, particularly in destinations accessible by water, which he says will create a hub of cabotage trade that will drive the Cabotage Act with sub-optimal implementations deriving from the effective development and operationalization of the country’s vast inland waterway assets.
He said it will also provide employment opportunities for young people along the coastal communities and address youth unrest as well as envisaged foreign direct investment, which will accelerate the reduction of the skills gap.
Moghalu also called for the establishment of the National Inland Waterways Trust Fund, noting that most of the inland waterways systems around the world are funded by this fund which is contributed by stakeholders due to high expenditure. capital for the provision and maintenance of infrastructure.
He also called for the adoption of the inland ports concession as a model to attract public-private partnerships to operationalize the sector.
Moghalu revealed that NIWA, in collaboration with the Infrastructure Concessions Regulatory Commission (ICRC), has licensed the rehabilitated and commissioned Onitsha river port to a private investor, while the Baro river port is expected to follow soon. , then the river ports of Oguta and Lokoja, which are under construction.
Also speaking, former President of CILT Nigeria, Ibrahim Jibril described the National Transport Policy (NTP) as a crucial document that could transform the country’s inland waterway sector and the entire transport system, but lamented that it was not approved.
Jibril expressed concern that the document, which was developed over five years ago, has become outdated and needs adjustments to ensure the policy stands as a relevant updated document.
Jibril, however, called for an industry audit of infrastructure, such as boat building yards, piers, craft and skill sets to find out where there are gaps and the efforts needed to achieve the best global standards.