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House Of Reps Begins Amendment Of 8 Key Maritime Laws To Strengthen The Sector

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Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has disclosed that
as part of the efforts of the House to improve Nigeria’s revenue
sources, 8 laws related to the maritime sector are undergoing amendments
to position it for optimum performance.

Speaking
at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Ports, Harbours
and Waterways on 8 Maritime Industry related Bills in the National
Assembly, the Speaker noted that when passed, they will address issues
that have impeded on its ability to be a major source of foreign
exchange that the country is in dire need of.
He
explained that “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, whose potentials have, unfortunately,
been grossly under realized. This explains the importance which the
present Assembly attaches to Maritime Sector reform Bills, 8 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.”
Speaking
to the intendment of the bills, Mr 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. 
The eight Bills under consideration to include the following: 
i. A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, and to Establish the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority.
ii.
A Bill for an Act to Amend the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, aimed at
providing an appropriate institutional framework for the ownership,
management, operation, development and control of Ports and Harbours
nationwide. 
iii. A Bill
for an Act to Repeal the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, and
Re-enact the National Inland Waterways Authority Act; and,
iv.
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. 
v.
A Bill for an Act to Amend the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage)
Act to restrict the use of foreign vessels in domestic coastal trade,
promote the development of indigenous tonnage and establish a Cabotage
vessel financing fund, and
vi. A Bill for an Act to
Amend the Inland Fisheries Act to review upwards, the penalties for
persons who contravene the Act in view of the fact that the current
stipulated penalties are grossly inadequate and totally incapable of
deterring offenders as the penalties are a mere slap on the wrists of
offenders. 
Lastly, the
7th Bill is for an Act to Amend the National Shipping Policy Act, to
include the representative of the Nigerian Shippers Council in the
membership of the Authority, subject of course to majority opinion and
the 8th, a Bill for an Act to Amend the Council for the Regulation of
Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and for Related Matters, to amend some
sections of the Council’s Act with a view to empowering it for better
performance and improved efficiency.

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