The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Transport, Mr Orman Esin, has called for the strengthening of extant laws for the marine sector to boost the state’s economy.
Speaking with the correspondents chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Uyo, in his office, he regretted that the state government had not taken advantage of as much as 5 per cent of what comes into the state due to weak or non-robust extant laws in place.
Adding that such had made the state government lose revenue to oil companies operating in the state, claiming that their operations fall under the Federal Government exclusive list, he said his ministry has set up a local content committee to come up with modalities to address the issue.
“The first problem we have is the extant laws that should help Akwa Ibom state. That was part of the reasons I paid a courtesy visit to the State Chief Judge. Some of the laws under the exclusive list of the Federal Government of Nigeria hinder the operation of the Akwa Ibom marine sector because they tell you that every operation done 200 nautical miles away from the shoreline is the responsibility of the Federal Government under the exclusive list.
“The question is, where is the 200 nautical miles? The operation of these oil and gas companies is within the Akwa Ibom territorial waters, but because they don’t want to be captured under the state government’s legal framework in terms of revenue generation, tax payment to the government, they want to hide under the exclusive list because they don’t want to be monitored by the state government, they say they are under FG exclusive list.
“That became a problem to me; therefore, I had to come up with a bill for this to be addressed. This is what the ministry wants to do. I will pay a courtesy call on the speaker so that we have a bill that is workable for Akwa Ibom State Marine, but there was a bill passed but not well documented.
“Blue economy is massive and Akwa Ibom State, apart from P.A.Y.E and few taxes (which is small) has not been able to take advantage of as much as 5% of what comes into the state because we don’t have a robust law. For this reason, we are going to inaugurate the ministry of transport local content committee.”
Esin also hinted that his ministry is partnering with the Ministry of Internal Security to tackle cases of insecurity and piracy at the waterways.
He further hinted that the state government has entered into a partnership with the Nigerian Navy to develop marine transportation, thereby providing an alternative route to road transportation.
The Commissioner also said the Nigerian Navy had submitted a design for ferries and cargo boats that would be completed in six months, which would be carrying people from Oron to Calabar.