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Politicians should not head Ministry of Transport – Nicol, SALS president

As Nigerians get set to welcome a new administration come May 29, 2015, the President, of the Shippers’ Association of Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol has advised the incoming administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to desist from appointing a politician to man the Ministry of Transport.
Nicol who was reacting to insinuations in some quarters that the Ministry of Transport may likely be manned by a former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige or the incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola stated that appointing a politician to man the sensitive position of Minister of Transport would amount to total failure.
He also contended that a freight forwarder cannot even be appointed the Minister of Transport to manager sector as such a person had been restricted to clearing containers lacking the requisite knowledge of the transaction between the buyer, the transport, the shipping and terminal operators and the finally releasing the good to the owner.
The SALS boss however suggested that a Minister of Transport should rather come from the crop of people who have spent most of their lives in the maritime industry adding that the maritime industry was more complex than the state management.\
According to him,” that is what am saying, they (Ngige and Fashola) have never been shippers, they didn’t read transport. They managed state governments but we are looking at professionalism in this trade. The two of them put together, I do not think because one, they have been Governors of their respective states, they will now know how to manage the maritime industry”.
“You see, to govern a state is quite different from cargo management, you have govern a state and the state has a blue print that must be followed. The maritime industry is even more complex than the state management. If you look at managing a state, the first thing they need to do is the security of the state and that he was able to curtail. Ngige absolutely controlled security in his state, we give him credit for that”.
“Outside that, if you look at the management, look at the roads, look at the roads from Tin Can to Apapa and here is a government that benefits from the ports, that shippers will pay one thousand naira per container. So, if you have four million containers in a year in Lagos, multiply that by one thousand naira. That is what the Lagos state government raked in and they cannot fix the roads. Is that management? That is not management”.
It is not something you bring a politician, he is a politician. You will now bring a politician to come and manage the port very well and he is not a professional, he is not a shipper? If you bring a bill of a lading and other documents, it will look strange to him. So, he has to be educated”.
“But look at the industry itself; you have people like Otunba Folarin. Here in this country we don’t respect him but they revere him outside this country and we are wasting our professionals. You have somebody like Captain Bashir of ABTL. You know he is the Managing Director of ABTL, people like that because the whole of their lifetime is devoted to maritime and we need people who have spent most their lives in the industry”.
Again, Shippers call for Ministry of Maritime Affairs
The Shippers’ Association of Lagos State has again called for the separation of the maritime sector from the Ministry of Transport as well as the establishment of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs to cater for the need of the industry just like the Aviation and Petroleum industries.
The President of the association, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol made this call in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
Nicol contended that if smaller countries like the Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana should have such ministry, there was no reason why a big country like Nigeria handling over four Million containers in a year could not have such a Ministry.
He maintained that the maritime industry as far as cargo was concerned was huge and that it needed a supervising Ministry that would concentrate on the activities and the progress of the sector adding that the sector was where the major money came from.
“So, we need a separate Ministry not just the National Transport Commission. National Transport Commission is all embracing that you have railways, you have the Aviation, you have so many other auxiliary services that is merged into the National Transport Commission but we have the maritime sector that has been neglected all these years. So, we need a ministry, it makes sense”, he said.

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