The transport industry in Nigeria has witnessed a lot of transformation in recent time, thanks to the federal government. The maritime sector has also witnessed somewhat revolution. The Federal Ministry of Transport under the leadership of Rotimi Amaechi has shown an excellent level of competence and capacity in leadership and deliverables in the transport sector.
This stamp of authority and adroitness has manifested in Nigeria‘s rail transformation master plan. The government’s avidity for maritime security has resulted in lower crime rates in the Gulf of Guinea while his aptness and expertness in project supervision is legendary and has ensured quality delivery of projects under his watch.
Some of these achievements in rail infrastructure include the 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail with 80 per cent completion rate; the 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began; the Abuja Light Rail completed in 2018 and the ground-breaking for the construction of Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Rail as well as the revamp of Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Narrow Gauge Rail.
The Eastern flank from Port-Harcourt to Abia, Enugu, Benue is in the works as a feasibility study has been forwarded to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.
It is given that Nigeria’s maritime industry is a major contributor to the country‘s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Maritime industry under Amaechi has also played a key role in reviving and moving forward Nigeria‘s economy.
Approval has been given for new private-sector funded deep sea ports: Lekki Deep Sea Port (Construction already well underway, for completion in 2022); Bonny Deep Sea Port (Ground-breaking done in March 2021); Ibom Deep Sea Port; and Warri Deep Sea Ports.
There has been a consistent development of capacity at the Eastern Ports: The Calabar Port commenced export of bulk cement to Tema Port in Ghana. In 2019 three container ships berthed at Calabar Port, for the first time in eleven years; the dredging of Warri Port (Escravos Bar—Warri Port channel) completed in 2018.
A due process manager, Bello had turned around the port industry as was never seen before. He facilitated the takeoff and commissioning by President Buhari, the Kaduna Dry Port which has become a port of origin and destination with international code. The Dale Dry Port, Funtua, Heipang in Jos are 80 per cent completed and awaiting finishing touches.
During his tenure, he conceptualised the Vehicle Transit Park (VTP) along several corridors of our highway. Of note in this regard is the collaboration of the NSC and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in providing solutions to transport infrastructure deficit and other operational challenges to cargo movement.
For instance, the removal of articulated trucks over 30 years old, accounting for 90 per cent of trucks on our roads and highways. This collaboration has led to the development of critical transport infrastructure that supported trade and enforced standards. For the first time, a database on trucks is to be generated.
Bello, regarded by many as an economic revolutionary, has indeed revolutionised the ports. Today, the Port process is 80 per cent automated thereby making clearing of cargo easy and less cumbersome.
He holds critical engagements with Customs, Police, freight forwarders, logistics companies and allied federal government agencies to ensure that the federal government‘s policy of ease at doing business is achieved and sustained.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Hassan Bello relocated to the ports to ensure smooth flow of operations and that the ports continued to operate 24/7. In the last 10 years, there has been no increase in charges or tariffs. His constant engagements with stakeholders have reduced friction between clearing agents, NARTO, terminal operators and logistics companies.
Perhaps one of the most notable imprints that Bello would be leaving behind is the National Port Process Manual (NPPM). His signature attribute and coordinating efforts with NEPC, ICPC, EFCC and other agencies brought about the NPPM and the New Port Order (NPO).
The NPPM is a holistic effort to enhance Nigeria’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), boost transparency, eliminate bottlenecks and illegal demands within the region‘s seaports and terminals. International agencies and global maritime institutions have acknowledged the NPPM and the NPO as the best in Africa.
– Frank, a member of Shippers Council, wrote in from Lagos