The need for Nigeria’s shipping industry to improve on its operational capacity by having more ships in its registry in order to measure up to international standards and remain competitive, has been stressed.
The remark was made by the Chief Engineer on board M/V Costellio, Engr. Tombra Ebikabowei during an interview with The Tide at the Port Harcourt Wharf, Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
He said, the strategic importance of the shipping industry to the Nigerian economy could not be underestimated owing to the fact that it serves as the gateway to the importation and exportation of goods to and from the country.
According to him, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), under the former Director-General, had 1,318 vessels in its ship registry, but sources said that 2,165 vessels were operating in the nations waters. The United Nations Conference on Trade Development in its Review of Maritime Transport 2010, said as at January last year, the 35 world largest flags of registration accounted for 93.23 percent of the world fleet, a further increase from the 92.9 percent share a year earlier, he added.
Engr Ebikabowei who is a Marine Engineer noted that the largest flag of registration continues to be Panama, with 289 million Dead weight Tonne (which measures the carrying capacity of vessels) or 22.6 per cent of the world fleet, followed by Liberia (142 million DWT or 11 percent), the Marshall Islands (6.1 percent) Hong Kong (5.8 percent) China (5.8 percent), Greece (5.3 percent) and Bahamas (5.02 percent).
Together, those top five registries accounted for 51 percent of the world’s deadweight tonnage and the top 10 registries accounted for 71.3 per cent of the world’s deadweight tonnage, with both figures showing increases over the previous years.
Illegal Parks: Taxi Drivers Accuse Task Force Of Extortion
Taxi drivers plying Rumuokwuta-Choba route in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, have raised alarm over what they described as illegal extortion by officials of the Task Force on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks.
The taxi drivers alleged that the officials of the taskforce assigned to Rumuokwuta/Choba route have deviated from their primary official assignment of ensuring sanity on the road and were now engaging in illegal extortion of money from drivers.
Speaking to The Tide, a taxi driver plying Rumuokwuta/Choba route, Mr. Jide Akande, narrated his ordeal in the hands of a task force official who allegedly jumped into his taxi cab demanding for N1,500 as gratification just to allow him load his passengers anywhere.
He also alleged that the official threatened to arrest him if he refused to comply.
Narrating his own experience, another taxi driver on the same route, Mr. Onwuka Ibe, told The Tide that though the task force was needed to sanitise the roads, he regretted that the bad-eggs among them were trying to sabotage the efforts of the government.
He said that some officials of the taskforce, were in the habit of extorting drivers who paid as much as N3,000 in a day for them to load and offload.
Ibe stated that it was a major challenge facing the drivers, which the task force should address.
He commended the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for the initiative, noting that the exercise had improved the flow of traffic in almost all the routes in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas.
He advised the task force to operate with human face, while also engaging in regular dialogue and consultations with stakeholders to resolve issues.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the task force Hon. Bright Amaehule, had condemned the action of some of his members and warned that anyone caught in shady deals would be dealt with.
It would be recalled that Amaewhule suspended three members of the task force at Rumuokoro axis, last Wednesday.
Amaewhule Promises To Rid Task Force Of Bad Elements
The Chairman of the Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, has reaffirmed his determination to rid the body of bad elements that tend to undermine the efforts of the task force.
The chairman gave the assurance shortly after announcing the suspension of five members of the task force at Rumuokoro unit of the operation, recently.
According to him, the suspension of the five officials of the task force was as a result of negligence of duty, saying drivers were busy loading and off-loading passengers outside the Rumuokoro Park, while his men sat down and watched.
“We said that no driver drops or loads passengers any more along the road, rather you must enter the park. Also coming from Choba, you must drop passengers in the park and not at Rumuokoro roundabout which will end up causing road traffic congestion.
“I now sighted my men, five of them allowing loading and off-loading at that place. I, therefore, have no option than to show them the way out by suspending them for neglecting their duty,” he said.
Hon Amaewhule maintained that several warnings had been issued to the task force officials to desist from any act capable of undermining the efforts of the taskforce.
“I have had several reports from drivers and members of the public concerning the negative attitude of some of the officers and I had cautioned and advised enough; now is time for action,” Amaewhule warned.
Meanwhile, the task force chairman has advised all trailers and tankers from Eleme, Tai, Gokana and Obio/Akpor local government areas to park their trucks at trailer park situated at Ebubu Eleme, stressing the task force would not hesitate to seize any trailer causing road traffic congestion on the road.
Drivers Decry Poor Condition Of Etche-Ngo-Okpala Road
Commercial drivers in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State on Monday staged a peaceful protest at Okomoko to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the deplorable state of the Etche-Ngo-Okpala federal road.
The chief driver of the association, Chief Alex Nweke, while speaking to newsmen at Okomoko town, expressed hope that the five-hour protest would attract the attention of both the federal and state governments to the road.
According to him, the aim of the protest was to tell the Federal Government that Etche Local Government Area remained an integral part of the federal unit and therefore deserved equal opportunity and attention given to other parts of the country.
“We passionately appeal that the Federal Government should come to our aid by fixing the road, which links Rivers State, Imo and Abia States.”
He said that the road had become a death trap, as drivers and passengers were always harassed, raped, robbed and kidnapped by men of the underworld due to slow movement occasioned by the bad road.
A driver John Okere, who spoke to our correspondent, said that the rate at which vehicles broke down on the road vis a vis the cost of maintenance was unbearable, stressing that if the road was rehabilitated, it would cost them less to maintain their vehicles.
Another driver, Mr. Linus Nwankwo, also told The Tide that drivers lost several business hours and income due to potholes and bad condition of the road and therefore appealed to the Federal Government to take immediate action to remedy the road.
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