Executive Vice-Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr Taiwo Afolabi, on Friday, said that piracy attacks on ships at various terminals had led to the introduction of war risk surcharges on consignments heading to Nigeria by many shipping lines.
Afolabi made the disclosure during the fourth edition of Taiwo Afolabi Annual Conference, with the theme “Innovation and Practical Reforms Towards Sustainable Growth in the Maritime Sector”, which held in Lagos.
According to Afolabi, who was represented by Mr Adekunle Oyinlola, Managing Director of the Group, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies should further fortify the nation’s coastal area and maritime boundaries against maritime crimes.
“While I commend the support of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), I want to say that attacks on ships, either at berth, anchorage or off our coastal area, can effectively be tackled with the right approach.
“I want to commend the Federal Government, through the various efforts of regulatory agencies in the maritime sector such as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NIMASA and Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), for its policy of linking some of the ports to the national rail network.
“With this policy, cargoes can be evacuated by rail from Apapa ports to the hinterland.
“Government’s initiative of moving cargoes from the ports to the inland dry ports and container freight stations is a welcome development and must be seen to the end,” Afolabi said.
He said that in spite of several maritime laws and port reforms, there should be more policies, reforms and most importantly, a strong implementation mechanism.
Afolabi, who is also the Consul-General of the Republic of Djibouti in Nigeria, said that in spite of various challenges, the Nigerian ports reforms policy, which brought the private sector into ports operations, was indeed a huge success.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the occasion, who is also Chairman, Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Chief Kunle Folarin, said that issues of reforms and the need for practical and innovative solutions had become imperative in dealing with the maritime sector.
“The new economic agenda in the maritime sector and ports industry raises concerns on port reforms and local participation policies.
“It also calls for direct foreign investment policies, the transformation of the port from a whole public monopoly into a landlord model organisation, with a master plan that will also include Green Field Development,” Folarin said.
The Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, represented by Prof. Matthew Ilori, commended the efforts of the organiser in exposing Law students to the maritime sector.
Ogundipe said that the maritime industry was the gateway to the nation’s economy, adding that organising the industry could sustain Nigeria’s economy.
In her welcome address, the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, said that the programme had exposed their students to various platforms by deepening their knowledge beyond the school curriculum.
Atsenuwa said that it was important for the school to partner with the maritime industry to enable the students choose career in maritime law, shipping as well as admiralty, to enhance the progress of the industry.
In his keynote address, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NCS), Mr Hassan Bello, said that the NSC bill which, he hoped would be passed to the parliament as an executive bill was presently being treated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
“We have to regulate the carriage of goods by land, which means there must be liability, insurance, responsibility of the owners of the transport and carriage.
“In the freight forwarding practice, we have called for consolidation and professionalism for reforms in the tracking and haulage systems.
“We need to have registered fleets which will pass all the tests so that carriage of goods from the ports to the hinterland will be secured and fast because delivery of cargo is essential to the economy.
“What we have now, of course, is rickety trucks breaking down all over the place and there is no legislation to guide carriage of goods by land.
“There must be, for example, a rest period, after six or eight hours of driving, the driver must observe some rest, as most accidents are caused by fatigue,” he said.