Maritime Industry Capable Of Sustaining Nigeria’s Economy – Experts | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Maritime Industry Capable Of Sustaining Nigeria’s Economy – Experts

Posted: Mar 9, 2016 at 12:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*As Eight Ships Laden With Petrol To Discharge In Lagos Ports

Andrew Utulu

Operations in various sub-sectors of the maritime industry could earn Nigeria over N7.5 trillion, if properly harnessed, industry experts have said.
These experts who cut across ship owners, maritime lawyers, terminal operators, freight forwarders and more, have said that the maritime industry could conveniently serve as the ‘bail out’ for Nigeria’s economy, following falling oil prices.

Speaking on the opportunities that abound in the industry, President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, said Nigeria accounted for over 65 per cent of total sea-borne traffic in volume and value in West and Central Africa makes shipping business viable.
He said that “besides a high volume of import and export trade from and to dominant economic regions of the world, industrial activities in manufacturing, oil and gas, telecommunications and power generation have continued to expand in scope and context following a liberalised economic environment.

“These expansionist trends at the macro level have consequently widened the investment frontiers in the shipping and logistics industry that have moved and supported the growth of the nation’s economy over time”.

The SOAN President noted that the effect of trade level made possible the development and growth of domestic water-borne transportation, which was supported with the enactment of Nigeria’s Cabotage Act.

“Following the enactment of Nigeria’s Cabotage Act, there has been an increase in demand for cargoes and persons to be transported between the country’s ports and inland waterways by ships and ferries. “This development has prompted calls that modern, safe, reliable and efficient domestic water-borne transportation be expanded for the benefit of the people, shippers, their businesses and the economy,” Ogbifun said.

He said that huge earnings could also come from the development of the shipping and ship-repairs industry, considering the data given by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of ship calls at the nation’s ports.

“In the first quarter of 2015, according to the Nigerian Ports Authority, a total of 5,139 ocean-going vessels with a total Gross Tonnage (GT) of 61,990,999 called at Nigerian ports. This is compared with the GT of 57,034,338 recorded in 2014.  “The GT of crude oil tankers recorded in the period under review showed a 12.21% increase over the equivalent period in 2014.

“Such a number of vessels trading on Nigerian waters and the volume of maritime activities in the country demands vibrant ship repair and dry dock facilities to provide essential services to the vessels where and when necessary,” he said.

The SOAN President noted that at present, the services were inadequate both in number, capacity and capability, making it a necessity to develop a robust ship-building and repair industry that would make ships and marine platforms acquisition, repair and maintenance affordable.

According to Ogbeifun, logistics needs provide huge business opportunities, which makes it necessary for African indigenous logistics concerns to partner with foreign ship owners who control large volumes of freight, to take advantage of that sub-sector for job creation and income generation.

Also, the vast flourishing hinterlands have been noted for trade viability in the establishment of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) as most of the regions are far from the coastline and cannot be serviced directly by the sea ports.

“This physical barrier makes the development of ICDs and dry ports imperative in order to bring port services closer to major commercial and trading centres of the country,” Ogbeifun also noted.

In that vein, the Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL) at the last quarter of 2015, said that when completed and fully operational, its ICD in Kaduna, which is one of the six proposed by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, would transfer not less than 30,000 containers annually. Managing Director of ICNL, Mr Ismail Yusuf, said the sector would create massive employment and adequately generate sustainable revenue for the nation’s economy.

Talking on job opportunities and revenue generation for the nation, a Freight Forwarder, Dr Frank Ukor, said terminal operation was an area with huge potential, especially if indigenous operators were opened to it. He noted that the terminal operations involved dock workers, who were usually engaged in large numbers and a large number of logistics providers.

Industry operators believe that the confidence of performance on the maritime industry to drive the nation’s economy is worth upholding at a time when oil, the nation’s main economic stay is suffering price instability at the international market.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Tuesday stated that eight ships have arrived Lagos ports, waiting to discharge Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol.

NPA in a telephone chat with Independent noted that 26 other ships laden with petroleum products, food items and other goods are expected to arrive Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos from March.2 to March 28.
NPA explained that the expected ships contained buck wheat, bulk salt, bulk sugar, bulk coal, general cargoes, vehicles, containers, steel products, petrol, kerosene and Aviation Turbine Kerosene.