Speaker of the House of Representatives; Yakubu Dogara has decried the poor rating of Nigerian ports among their peers within the West African sub-region. He also identified bad infrastructure, high cost of doing business and low draught as some of the reasons for the poor rating.
The Speaker noted this while opening investigations into alleged malpractices in the maritime sector, with respect to agencies such as Nigerian Ports Authority and National Inland Waterways.
The investigative hearing which was held in Abuja by the House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, followed alleged several motions calling for an investigation into malpractices in the maritime sector.
The Speaker, while speaking at the hearing, noted that the allegations raised were very weighty, with potential to seriously affect the economy.
He emphasised the importance of an effective maritime sector to the Federal Government’s diversification drive, saying that the Nigerian maritime industry still seemed to be struggling in spite of efforts aimed at repositioning it.
He lamented that the maritime industry in Nigeria is yet to attain the expected status of becoming the hub for international freight and trade in West Africa.
“In this regard, it has been observed that over the years, the Nigerian maritime industry has failed to attract the required local and foreign investment inflow that is proportionate to its contribution to both the Nigerian and West African economy, despite its great potential and enormous investment opportunities”, he added.
He described as unacceptable, a situation whereby ports in other West African nations would deliver better and more efficient services than Nigerian ports.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics in March, Nigeria’s Ports dropped down the global ratings basically due to bad infrastructure.
“Interestingly, major competitors in the West African region, such as the Port of Lome in Togo, Port of Dakar in Senegal, and the Port of Cotonou in Benin Republic, all deliver better efficient services than the Nigerian Ports.
The factors, he said, include alleged arbitrary increases in charges by terminal operators, inefficient collection and accounting procedures, and contract repetitions and payment of huge commissions to service providers compared to remittances to the Federation Account, among others.