of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday revealed that as part of efforts of the House to improve Nigeria’s revenue sources, eight laws related to the maritime sector were undergoing amendments to position it for optimum performance.
Speaking at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways on eight maritime industry-related Bills in the National Assembly, the Speaker noted that when passed, they will address issues that have impeded the ability of the sector to be a major source of foreign exchange the country is in dire need of. He explained: “These Bills are indeed very important and more so now that we as a country are rethinking our economic master plan with the aim of avoiding a future relapse into the kind of nail biting recession which we have just exited from by identifying and strengthening other sources of government revenue. “The Maritime sector is one such key source of huge revenue, especially of the much needed foreign exchange, which potentials have, unfortunately, been grossly under realized. This explains the importance which the present Assembly attaches to Maritime Sector reform Bills, eight of which this committee is presenting to the public for scrutiny and input today.

It is evident that the determination of this House to re-engineer and reposition this sector for optimum performance is not in doubt.” Some of the eight Bills under consideration is: A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, and Re-enact the National Inland Waterways Authority Act; and a Bill for an Act to Amend the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, to specify the tenure of Office of the Secretary and empower the Authority to receive donations and for other related matters, seeking to awaken the consciousness of Nigerians to God’s natural roads and rails provided free to 28 States and the FCT in form of inland waterways.

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However, in his presentation, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi called for an outright repeal of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Act as the position of the executive arm. Amaechi argued: “The NIWA amendment Bill as proposed and sponsored by Gabriel Onyenweife was for an amendment to specify the tenure of office of the Secretary, empower the Authority of donation and for other related matters, whereas the Federal Government’s reform is advocating a repeal of the old NIWA Act to create new Authority that will be a landlord and Technical Regulator of the Inland Waterways, create and promote an environment for private sector participation in an Economic Regulatory regime.” Speaking to the intendment of the bills, Dogara added that they will “position our maritime sector to deliver efficient services in a safe, secure and customer friendly environment, generate employment as well as develop capable local manpower, which will contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP and provide a formidable alternative to oil and gas in terms of revenue.” He also noted that the 8 Bills undergoing public hearing, in addition to the recently passed National Transport Commission Bill, is a fulfilment of the 8th Assembly’s Legislative Agenda, which was adopted by the House as a working and guiding document.

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