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I completely abandoned maritime sector in my first term—Amaechi confesses

More facts have emerged on why activities in the Nigerian maritime industry were grounded during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari under the ministership of the former and current Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.

This is coming on heels of his open confession at the 3rd Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum in Lagos, last week.

The minister confessed that “In my first term as Minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the Heads of Agencies.”

Industry stakeholders’ had throughout last dispensation pursued the minister to take a lot of strategic actions including floating new national shipping line which he first said he would drive; disbursement of CVFF to grow the capacity of indigenous ship-owners; review terms of port terminal concessions which had been over due since 2016; resolve the intractable port access road traffic crisis; and so many other issues of maritime importance that are left unattended to since 2015.

However, in agreeing that he has failed the industry, he publicly announced that “This time around, that won’t be happening as I have instructed that the Honourable Minister of Transportation for State, Hon. Gbemi Saraki should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversee what is happening there. I’ll only step in and come in hard when there is need to do so.”

The Minister further expressed displeasure on why upon approval of the contract for too long, the slow pace of the $195m maritime security contract awarded to an Israeli company, HSLI since 2017 is becoming unacceptable.

Amaechi said maritime security is one of the key issues and I have assured the government that must be implemented.

However, the Minister disclosed that he would be meeting with the Israeli company on tomorrow (Tuesday) after expressing dissatisfaction with the contractor’s excuse that purchasing the equipment for the project was the reason for the delay.

In his further submission on the maritime security, he noted that “The contractor claimed that equipment meant for the project is not what you buy off the shelf, which to me is not enough reason for the delay in the take-off of the project. They (HSLI) said they have to fabricate the equipment and bring it down to Nigeria, but we are losing man-hours, human beings and business to insecurity on our waters.”

Amaechi also seized the opportunity to commend the organizers of the Team Maritime Nigeria, a celebration to honour him at the end of his first stint as Transport Minister, even though he alluded that he didn’t do much in maritime to deserve such elaborate celebration and encomiums by the stakeholders.