The Federal Government of Nigeria has concluded plans to make importers take delivery of their cargoes cleared from Lagos ports at Papalanto in Ogun state via rail lines.

Disclosing this at the just concluded World Maritime day celebration in Lagos, Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi said that the government has made provision for the supply of 100 wagons and 60 locomotives to ease the movement of cargoes out of the ports.

He explained that traffic congestion is suffocating business activities in Apapa area of Lagos adding that the movement of the reconfiguration of the evacuation process will soon reduce the logjam in and around the Lagos ports.

“The ministry is worried by the time wasted at the ports and therefore is reviewing policies with a view to improving cargo transportation.

“With effective rail transportation of goods from the ports to the hinterland, less pressure will be on the roads and goods will get to destinations more secured and at less costs,” the minister said.

Amaechi said that the theme of the celebration, “Connecting Ships, Ports and people”, was aimed at building on the World Maritime Day theme of 2016 on “shipping: Indispensable to the World”.

According to him, the theme is focusing on helping International Maritime Organisation (IMO) member states to develop and implement maritime strategies to invest in a joined-up inter agency approach that addresses the whole range of issues.

“This includes the facilitation of maritime transport, increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of the marine environment and maritime security.”

He said that IMO would contribute to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as response to the challenges facing the world at the moment.

He mentioned the challenges to include increasing world population, climate change, threats to the environment, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and threats to food security.

“More efficient shipping will be achieved through working in partnership with the port stakeholders while government provides the enabling environment, thus efficient shipping will be a major driver toward global stability in sea transport and sustainable development for the good of the people.

“Only agencies which were part of the presidential approval in 2017 that are permitted to domicile within the ports, all other agencies must come in only when they are required.

“Therefore, there is the need for all maritime agencies to synergies to improve efficiency in our ports,” the minister said.

He expressed regret that some of the challenges inherent in the country’s inland waterways and ports operations had affected efforts at diversifying the economy.

He added that the Federal Government approved an Executive Order on Ports Operations to improve efficiency at the facilities.

He said with regard to diversification of the economy, the Federal Government had recorded some level of success on the concessioning of Onitsha River Port while others like Lokoja, Baro and Oguta River Ports were on the Buhari administration’s priority list.

He further said that measures were being taken on regional and sub-regional levels to curb insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

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