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FG Ready To Address Maritime Problems Says Osinbajo As He Hosts COMTUA National Exco

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government will proffer a lasting solution to the problem facing the maritime sector in the country, noting that the greatest concern of the government was to enhance the process of doing business in the maritime industry.

The vice president gave this assurance in Abuja while playing host to the National Executive and leaders of the Council of Maritime Union Association (COMTUA) on the need to address the various challenges bedevilling the maritime sector in order to improve the quality of service of the sector.

The meeting, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was in response to the request of the national executive of the association to seek solutions to the myriads of problems affecting the sector in Nigeria and Lagos State in particular.

Osinbajo also maintained that the Federal Government would work on modalities that would help in advancing the prospects of the maritime sector, and commended the patriotism of all the members of COMTUA for taking the bold step that would lead to solving the problems of the sector, assuring them of the Federal Government’s support in ensuring that it comes up with a workable and enduring plan that would help in taking the maritime sector to greater heights as it was done all over the world.

“I commend the patriotism of all the members of the National Executive of the Council of Maritime Union Association (COMTUA) for taking the bold step that would lead to solving the problems of the sector.

“It is my belief also that the new move would help, not only the Nigerian government but also all the stakeholders in ensuring that the maritime sector performs excellently well.

“I want to assure you of the Federal Government’s support in ensuring that we come up with a workable and enduring plan that would help in taking the maritime sector to greater heights as it is done all over the world,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the National President of the COMTUA, Prince Adeyinka Aroyewun, said the reason for the meeting with the vice president was to bring to the notice of the presidency, the various challenges faced by all the stakeholders in the maritime sector, and also find a way of solving those problems.

He stated further that there was a need for the Federal Government to address the various problems hindering the progress of the sector.

COMTUA boss said part of the issues raised with the vice president, include illegal extortion of levies from operators, unjust delay by law enforcement agents, high cost of diesel and spare parts, poor road infrastructure and inadequacies on the part of terminal operators, shipping lines, traffic gridlock, as well as the gross failure of the recent ETO project with the accompanying enforcement team to address the gridlock.

Aroyewun added that the meeting with the vice president became imperative as one of the key measures to address the issues holistically.

“It may not be possible to catalogue all the issues bothering our segment of the industry in this singular address, but it is evident that all is not well with our business. Rather than becoming part of the problems, we have resolved to always endeavour to be part of the solutions to the various maladies in our industry.

“As law-abiding citizens, we humbly suggest the following as solutions to tackling the challenges of the industry.

“It is our opinion that the monopoly of TTP to ETO be broken, solely by unbundling the system. As far as we are concerned, COMTUA believes competition would usher in great improvements that could bring the much-needed respite for the sector, even now that it is obvious that the present situation on the ground has not brought the expected dividends.

“As an association that is poised to seek a proper solution to the problem we have insisted on the creation of a dedicated enforcement team that will regulate the activities of the sector. The enforcement team will also have members of our trucking community as stakeholders.

“This will enhance our operation and also help the revitalization of the Presidential task team, where the relevant stakeholders, including our trucking unions and association, are members. The support for our union in the implementation of our local call-up arrangement was done in partnership with relevant agencies viś-à-viś the Nigerian Port Authority, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Ministry of Transportation.

“We have also keyed into the new measure by unbundling the current exorbitant ETO system by seeking a forensic audit of the ETO’s past activities since there are several alleged irregularities.

“COMTUA also seeks a refund of all monies, illegally collected by ETO and the payment of amounts due to all parties in the ETO arrangement, even as it urged the Federal Government to improve on its activities relating to the regulations of traffic movements within the federal roads leading to the ports,” he said.

While seeking the best solution, Aroyewun stated also that with the new transformational agenda embarked upon by the Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki, the national leadership of COMTUA had unanimously recommended her to become a substantive minister to the president.

He also said the association also urged the Federal Government to look into the activities and qualifications of the terminal operators, shipping lines and other agencies with stakes in the industry for proper monitoring as well as keeping them alive to their duties.

“We have made deliberate efforts to carry all members of our trucking community along in policy-making and formulations in the sector by the relevant agencies of the government,” he said.

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