By Tanko Mohammed
Heads of maritime agencies have expressed shock over the attack and level of destruction at the corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos.
The office was touched by hoodlums during a nationwide peaceful protest by youths.
According to a statement by Mr Philip Kyanet, Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA, the chief executives expressed their concern on Friday during a solidarity visit to the site of the incident.
They were surprised that NPA was singled out for attack and burnt in spite of its documented Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations initiatives, many of which were tailored to youth development.
The NPA headquarters was recently targeted by mobsters who hijacked the #ENDSARS protest against police brutality to cause mayhem in many cities around the country.
Speaking on behalf of the chief executives, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, condemned the assault, saying the level of destruction was monumental and constituted a huge loss to the maritime community as a whole.
Moghalu said, “Seeing the level of destruction here first hand, we feel very sad about the turn of events.
“We are all in solidarity with the NPA management. This is a great loss to the entire country and we need to educate ourselves more that violence is not the best way to go about things.”
In a similar vein, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, regretted that the maritime industry was made to face this challenge while still battling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that port facilities were critical national assets that should be collectively protected.
“Port facilities are invaluable economic assets and they are critical to national development and so it behoves on us all as citizens to be custodians of this monumental infrastructure built for our collective good,’’ Jamoh said.
The NIMASA boss commended the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, for providing leadership at this trying time for the agency.
Jamoh said that the Nigerian economy would have suffered considerably if the destruction had led to suspension of port operations.
“This is a sad event, especially, for our industry that is still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are just lucky that this did not stop shipping operations because this would have negatively impacted or crippled the Nigerian economy,” he said.
Bala-Usman called the attack an assault on the maritime industry, saying that the level of destruction was incomprehensible.
Other chief executives of maritime agencies present were: Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr Hassan Bello; and Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Mr Sam Nwakohu.