By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
The Federal Government has promised to deliver a National Transport Policy that will articulate seamless transportation system for the country before the present administration leaves office in 2023.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, disclosed this while interacting with journalists on Sunday, as part of activities marking the 2022 World Maritime Day Celebration in Lagos.
“We do not have a National Transport Policy. The Permanent Secretary and I agreed that we are going to do everything possible to see that this nation gets a National Transport Policy before May, 2023. It is only for not being too hopeful or ambitious, otherwise I would have said by God’s grace before this year ends,” adding that as soon as the grey areas are resolved, it will be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council for consideration, he said.
According to the Minister the other vision he intends to pursue is the unbundling of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, arguing that it cannot be the owner, operator and regulator at the same time.
“One of the things I want to see is a Nigerian Railway that is unbundled . Before I came, there was a Committee set up by my predecessor to look into the unbundling of Nigerian Railway Corporation. We cannot have an agency that is owner, regulator and operator at the same time”, Sambo explained.
He further explained that the completed lines can be concessioned. “We can solicit for people who are interested in running the lines efficiently, competitively and cost effectively, so as to generate revenue for government to pay back some of the loans it took and at the same time for the concessionaires to make a living, employing Nigerians and putting food on the table for ordinary people. ”
On the potentials in the maritime sector, Sambo reiterated that ” with the natural resources of the ocean and Inland waterways, we have no business expolioting oil and solid minerals because of their damaging effect on the environment.”. He surmised that the country can survive on maritime alone if the right policies are put in place.
Regarding the Cabottage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF, the Minister said: The law is very clear as to who owns the fund; the law is very clear as to how the fund is to be disbursed”. He reasoned that by disbursing this fund to indigenous Shippers, the idea of having a National fleet flying Nigerian flag will be gradually realized.
Answering the question on how soon the Regional bank will take off, the Minister informed that the positions of the President, Company Secretary and Director has been ceded to Nigeria and what remains is for the Council of Ministers to meet and give approval so that the best people can be put forward.
Addressing the issue of the Abuja-Kaduna victims still in captivity, six months after. Minister said: “The life of one Nigerian is more important than the rail service we are providing, so I don’t want anybody to think of how much we are loosing,” adding that the Ministry is working assiduously to secure their release.
On why Nigeria lost the Category C Seat at International Maritime Organization, IMO, and the way forward, the Minister who was not there at the time called on the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani to respond and she said all the strategies have been reviewed and all the necessary things put in place to ensure favourable outcomes next time.
While calling on Nigerians, to support the country in this bid, she particularly enjoined the Press to report positively and not blow minor negative things out of proportion as they are bound to leave wrong impressions