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Maritime industry to grow by 5% this year

Maritime industry to grow by 5% this year

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Maritime industry stakeholders have projected positive growth for the sector if the Federal Government pays adequate attention to it this year, Correspondent OLUWAKEMI DAUDA reports.

The Nigerian Maritime industry has been projected to grow from 2.5  to five per cent this year. This growth, according to stakeholders,  will result in hiring more maritime services in the course of the year. The growth period, they said, will  cover  the 2019 general elections and  the post-election era.

The projection is contained in the Nigerian maritime industry forecast for 2018/2019 unveiled in Lagos by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.

The forecast showed that Nigerians should expect total fleet size to grow by 4.41 per cent this year.

According to Peterside, the outlook is the key parameter that will drive the maritime industry. He highlighted some other key drivers of the sector as geographic factor, availability of skilled labour force, an efficient and effective regulatory environment, manpower and human capacity development, maritime infrastructural development, globalisation and new technology, among others.

The projection also revealed that oil tanker fleet size will increase by 1.7 per cent during the period under consideration, while the non-oil tanker fleet size is expected to attain 8.72 per cent this year.

Peterside, who underscored the role  being played by the maritime sector, said it’s a propeller in the exploitation, distribution and exportation of the nation’s ocean resources, with a total annual freight cost estimated at between $5 billion and $6 billion annually. He said the maritime component of the Nigerian oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion, which further reflected the prominence of maritime to the Nigerian economy.

“As a regulator, we are driven by values and commitment, as these are the only ways that investors can be attracted to harness the great potential in our maritime sector. On our part, we will continue to work out incentives and maritime sector specific interventions to attract investments,” Peterside said.

He said the forecast reviewed developments in the industry in 2017; showed expected international and local developments in policy and regulatory environment for the maritime sector last year and this year and also takes a look at emerging opportunities and challenges for the maritime industry. He added that all were done with the sole aim of realising a robust and business friendly maritime domain that will also create avenues for economic prosperity.

Peterside identified five bills undergoing legislative processes in the National Assembly as key regulatory developments in the maritime industry that will affect the maritime sector this year.

These are the Anti-Piracy Bill; the establishment of the Maritime Development Bank; Inland Fisheries Amendment Bill; the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Bill and the Cabotage Act Amendment Bill 2017.

He said when passed into law, they will help realise the dream of making Nigeria the maritime hub in Africa this year.

 

Capacity building

NIMASA, according to the DG, made significant progress, especially in human capacity building last year.

More substantial progress, he said, needs to be made by the agency this year, in ship regulation, security, port administration and operations, among other skills development, which are related to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirement.

 

NIMASA DG urged to make shipping a viable alternative to oil and gas money

NIMASA’s Director-General, according to stakeholders, took the right step in repositioning the maritime security landscape last year, and they urged him to continue with the laudable plan this year.

To former President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, NIMASA must continue to play a leading role in making shipping a viable alternative to the oil and gas money.

 

Shippers Council and review of the concession agreement

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), according to stakeholders, needs government’s maximum support to carry out its role as economic regulator to make the ports attractive and competitive in the sub region.

The NSC Executive Secretary, Mr Hassan Bello, according to stakeholders, has what it takes to carry out the necessary reforms in our ports and contribute to the on-going review of the concession agreement. To them, it is mandatory to have effective platform to make the ports attractive for business, eliminate arbitrary charges and boost government revenue this year.

 

The Nigerian Ports Authority

Last year’s aqcuisition of more than four 60-tonne buller-pull tug boats with state-of-the-art equipment and computerised engines by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), according to stakeholders, would boost efficiency and increase government’s revenue at the ports this year.

The boats, whose engines were manufactured by Rolls Royce, were built by DAMEN Engineering, Netherlands, under IMO supervision. The boats, which worth over $30 million, are Mt Daura, Mt Ubima, Mt Uromi and Mt Majaya. In 2007, the NPA generated over N299 billion. Although, the figure for last year is yet to be released by the agency, but stakeholders projected that the agency can generate more than N350 billion this year if the shippers take their cargoes to the Eastern ports through the deployment of Flat Bottom Vessels (FBVs) in the area because of the low channels draught.

The revenue is expected to come from traffic, harbour, administsra-tion and other sources from the ports.

The NPA Managing Director Ms Hadiza Bala Usman  said the use of FBVs would be given attention as means of finding solution for the limitation in some shallow draught channels, especially in Calabar, and Warrifor ports.

Usman recalled that a flat bottom 200-meter-long and 61,000MT heavy vessel berted in Calabar last year in spite of the draft limitation of the channel.

 

Ports’ access roads

The NPA has projected that the roads leading to the seaports in Lagos, Warri, Onne, Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Sapele would be fixed this year as they are currently impassable. Apart from the Wharf/Apapa road, which the NPA contributed N1.8 billion to fix last year, the remaining ports’ access roads have not attracted government’s attention in the last 10 years. Those leading to the Tin-Can Island ports in Lagos are so bad that some stakeholders have described it as a “shame to the nation.”

The bad roads have constituted  nightmares to consignees, importers, exporters, freight forwarders and other port users, who use the roads to evacuate their goods.

The roads are in sorry state as port users spend hours daily to access or exit the terminals hence, the  stakeholders are impressing it on the Federal Government and the NPA to fix the roads this year to meet their business aspiration.

 

Cargo dwell time

The NPA, importers said, must  ensure that cargo dwell time (CDT), which is the average time a cargo remains in the terminal from the point of discharge to point of exit, must improve significantly this year.

The country, findings revealed, has the highest cargo dwell time in the Wet African sub-region.

For instance, ANLCA Vice President, Dr Kayode Farinto said cargo dwell time in Cotonou port is 14 days, Ghana’s Tema port  is 15 days, while Lome has the lowest port time of nine days.

He, however, said between 2011 and last year, dwell time in Lagos ports rose from 20 to 22 days.

Importers and other clearing agents like him attributed the delay to lack of National Single Window (NSW) operation at the ports. But the Federal Government through the NPA has projected that the NSW platform would be unveiled this year to address the problem.

 

Customs and provision of

 scanners

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), generated over N1.1billion last year, inspite of the fact that about 90 per cent of goods still goes through physical examination as against the use of mobile and fixed scanners.

The Service has projected that mobile and fixed scanners will be provided this year to facilitate trade and boost efficiency at the ports.

A clearing agent, Mr Segun Ogunsanu, said a lot of dirty deals  take place at ports and international land borders because the scanners are not available.

The Service has also promised to intensify its anti-smuggling campaign this year to reduce criminali-ties at the ports and border stations and boost government revenue.

 

Amaechi, Peterside urge to

disburse CVFF

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Peterside have projected the disbuirsment of the $124million (about N144.64 billion) Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) this year.

Indigenous ship owners said they would be happy if they could access the Cabotage fund to grow their businesses this year.

But a maritime lawyer, Dr Dipo Alaka said NIMASA cannot disburse the funds because it does not have the skill to recoup the money after its disbursement.

“There is a difference between policy making and regulation. On business operations, NIMASA, unfortunately, is given some responsibilities that are best done by the private sector. So, when NIMASA raises those funds from the freight charges and others, it can nominate a bank and deposit the money there and it is the bank’s responsibility to draw the lending process because they have the skills, but when NIMASA  takes up the role of disbursing the funds, it has no capacity,” Alaka said.

 

Stakeholders’ views

To Dr Farinto, given the opportunity, the NPA Managing Director will make more progress.

He specifically mentioned NPA’s review of the concession agreement with terminal operators.

“Nigeria is not a force to be reckoned with when it comes to shipping because of its lapses but it’s being improved upon gradually. This year, efforts must be placed on and given to more effectiveness in the industry because it takes a lot of work to put in and less discussion should be done but action. “

 

Unlocking maritime potential

The industry, according to Farinto,  is key to the  economy. As an oil-producing and exporting country, as well as a consumer nation, the country has a large market for foreign goods, owing to its population. Thus, the industry holds the key to the nation’s growth.  To unlock the potential in this sector, policies and programmes that have  the capacity to boost the economy must be implemented.

Concerted efforts, according to stakeholders, should be made to address the problems militating against the industry’s efficiency this year.

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