Senate kicks against implementation of new auto policy, wades into Apapa gridlock

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Senate President, David Mark

The Senate President, David Mark, on Thursday said Nigeria was not ready for the Nigeria Automotive Industry Bill.

Mark said he did not think Nigeria had the right resources to implement the law if passed.

He spoke during deliberation on the Nigeria Automotive Industry Development plan (Fiscal Incentives, Assurance and Guarantees) Bill which passed its second reading on Thursday.

Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) representing Cross River Central Senatorial District, the senate leader, sponsored the bill.

The objective of thE bill is to create revenue and expand the automobile market in Nigeria.

Mark said the bill was a good one without doubt but won’t solve the problem in Nigeria’s automotive industry.

He said Nigeria was not prepared for the bill to be carried out because no investor would put his money were 24 hours power was not guaranteed.

He said a good foundation had not been laid to enable the bill become a success.

“This is an excellent bill, we should pass it. We are missing the point not by this bill but you know because we have not laid the foundation for which this bill can become sustainable.

“I believe that the implementation is very important and unless we get these other factors together, this will remain absolutely good on paper but in practice it is going to be very difficult to get it right.

“China has protectionist policy; today, everybody is going to China. India has protectionist policy, there is no country that does not have the protectionist policy but we abandon our own because we have failed in several other areas,” he said.

Egba, the sponsor of the bill, said there was a huge automobile market in Nigeria and the bill would create opportunities to increase the standard of living of citizens and earn great revenue for the country.

He also said the objectives – income tax relief, tariff re-adjustment, administration and assurances would enhance the prospects of development of automotive in Nigeria.

Ndoma-Egba said about 400,000 vehicles worth over N550 billion were imported into the country in 2012.

“A total of about 400,000 vehicles – 100,000 new and 300,000 used – valued at over N550 billion were imported in 2012. The bill will thus facilitate the injection of foreign direct investment into the economy,” he said.

In concluding, Mark commended the government for its good work.

“We should commend government but we must let government know that for this bill to be meaningful, a few other things must be out in place, almost immediately along this bill.

“Sincerely, I agree that this government is doing very well and we are doing our best so that we implement these bills that we pass,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Privatization and Commercialization has pledged to ensure that the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Lagos State Government collaborate to ease the traffic gridlock on the access roads to Apapa and Tin Can ports, Lagos for the benefit of port operators and other users.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, made the pledge on Monday, in Lagos, when he led other senators on the first leg of their oversight visit to the ports in Apapa.

Obadara was responding to complaints by the Managing Director of Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL), Operators of Terminal E, Apapa Port, Alhaji Abba Isa Bukar that the port access roads were in deplorable condition.

He said “containers are continually falling off trucks while in transit, damaging vehicles daily while commuters face untold hardship thus, requiring prompt government attention.”

The Senator said FERMA and the Lagos State Government would meet to iron out the grey areas to enable them tackle the gridlock.

He noted that as the nation’s commercial hub, the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports would not be allowed to deteriorate.

Obadara said the committee embarked on the visit to know how much revenue the terminal operators were generating for the Federal Government and also to know their challenges with a view to getting legislative intervention to restore them.

Earlier, Bukar had informed the senators that since GDNL commenced operation in 2006, the company had embarked on massive infrastructural development and have ensured prompt payment of revenues accruable to government.

He listed insecurity, poor access roads, lack of an enabling law, litigation and lack of basic facilities as the challenges facing the company and ports operations in general.

On insecurity, the MD lamented the frequent attacks on the terminal from a neighboring village, Sapokoji and called for increased security patrol by security agencies along the water front.

Bukar appealed to the legislature for the urgent enactment of the Ports and Harbour Bill to attract more investments in the maritime sector.

At the ENL Consortium Limited, Operators of Terminals C and D of the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, the General Manager, Mr. Mark Walsh emphasized that the entire workforce was 100 percent Nigerians adding that the company’s capacity in cargo handling and other related activities had been developed to world class standards.

At APM Terminals Apapa, the Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Dawes informed the lawmakers that since takeover, the company had paid about $621 million to government as taxes.

The committee members also visited Lilypond Container Terminal Ijora and Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL).—Ships and Ports

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