The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari says he has directed that every Nigerian port must have the complement of rail infrastructure.

President Buhari made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday, while declaring open the African regional conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbours.

“Our projection is that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South rail route” President Buhari said.

He noted that his administration is giving the same level of serious attention to the improvement of road infrastructure.

“At the moment, 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across the six geopolitical zones of the country”.

“In addition, Nigeria’s major inland river channels are being dredged, with adequate channel markings, for ease of navigation through the Eastern and Northern parts of the country,” the President stated.

The President said this was in line with his administrations commitment to provide critical infrastructure in the maritime sector that will enhance the transportation of goods form the ports to the hinterland.

He says doing so will boost the country’s economic competitiveness as targeted by Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ERGP.

He said: “This administration that I am privileged to lead is committed to rebuilding infrastructure that supports the means of transportation form the ports to the hinterland. We understand that this interconnectivity will improve Nigeria’s economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” he said.

Inland Waterways
The Nigerian leader said major inland water ways are also being given adequate attention.

“We have stimulated activities on our inland water ways, as major inland water channels are being dredged, for the ease of navigation through the Eastern and Northern parts of the country and that is the best way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the maritime industry,” he said.

President Buhari implored participants at the regional conference to see themselves as people opportune to stand in positions of responsibility on behalf of the African continent.

He therefore urged them to at the end of their deliberations at the conference to come out with resolutions that will benefit the entire continent because the maritime sector, where they are stakeholders is central to the facilitation of trade and the total integration of the African economy.

Comparative Advantage
On is part, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi said the theme of the conference, African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity, was in line with the commitment of the Buhari administration’s commitment to optimising the comparative advantage the Nigeria’s maritime endowments confer on other parts of the world.

He disclosed government’s plan of developing a multi model system of transportation form all the ports in Nigeria.

There were goodwill messages from the International Maritime Organisation as well as other regional and global bodies in the maritime industry.

In her welcome address, the Managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman said: “The theme for the Conference “African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity” is of topical importance and would enable delegates to examine the African ports sector and their captive and competitive hinterlands, the connectivity facilitation infrastructure, expertise and hinterland accessibility compared to progress achieved in other parts of the world.”

The Managing director said all African Ports, Port Operators and Corridor Management Organisations and hinterland countries, as well as IAPH Member Organisations were invited to attend the conference and take advantage of the learning and networking opportunities it will offer.

She said the conference, which is the first ever IAPH Africa Regional Conference, will synergise to build the capacity and competitiveness in hinterland connectivity in Africa.