14 December 2018

Nigeria: 'Maritime Industry Has Capacity to Drive Economy'

With a prospect to generate over $8 billion yearly, the maritime sector has the resources to propel the desired growth in the nation's economy, stakeholders have said.

To fully optimise the industry capacity, they stressed the need for the Federal Government to fully exploit the potential through well-synchronised policies, electronic operations and synergy among government agencies.

Chairman, Ports Consultative Council, Kunle Folarin, among others who spoke at a one-day seminar for maritime journalists in Lagos, urged Government to ensure that the industry is reformed, restructured and well-regulated for it to unlock the untapped fortunes.

Expressing worry that there is currently a lack of focus in the industry, he called for greater cooperation among government agencies to ensure a viable and competitive maritime sector.

Folarin attributed the under-performance of the sector to factors such as; lack of synergy in conception and execution of projects; conflict in directives; and ego, as agencies flex muscles on superiority, among others.

He said these constitute major hindrances to collaboration on projects and the consequences of such are that many projects are delayed or abandoned to the detriment of the citizenry, adding inter-agency collaboration would offer opportunities for learning to have a competitive edge in the region.

"It would also boost compliance level, increase in revenue, trigger zero tolerance for inefficiency among others," he said.

He identified sensitive agencies in the ports system to include: Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Navy (NN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) among others.

He said the agencies' boards, and chief executive officers must earn respect and create a fresh synergy that can propel a new order in the industry.

A media guru, and former General Manager, Lagos Traffic Radio, Layinka Adagun, singled out NPA for its untiring efforts to cooperate with stakeholders in the maritime sector for the growth of various groups within the industry.

"The oil industry has always been seen as the nation's major revenue earner, but this sector lags behind the maritime industry that has earned its pre-eminence in Nigerian economy since the pre-colonial era when the Trans-Atlantic slave trade thrived on the coastal waters of what later became Nigeria.

"The strategic importance of the Nigerian maritime sector to the growth and stability of the nation's economy is attested to by its value in the upstream sector of the oil industry. This is further stressed by the Ministry of Transport, which estimated a total of about $8 billion freight cost yearly for the industry," he said.

Chairman, Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Qasim Akinreti, said the blue economy has limitless opportunities, and Nigeria with vast water resources has been unable to harness the potential because, "we failed to realise that the blue economy can earn the nation more income than the oil industry."

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