Stakeholders Knock Nigeria, Say We Are Not A Shipping Nation
Even as the international community yesterday celebrated the World Maritime Day 2017, stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime sector have said that the country does not have anything to celebrate and it could not yet be regarded as a shipping nation. The theme for this year’s celebration as directed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is "Connecting Ships, Ports and People". In an exclusive chat with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos yesterday, Executive Director of Sifax Haulage and Logistics, Major Henry Ajetunmobi (rtd) noted that Nigeria does not have ships and that her level of exploitation of maritime resources is still abysmally low. According to him, the only respite Nigeria has is the little success it made on port reforms. Hence, he said that if the country must celebrate at all, it must be at a very low key. "We have a body of ocean, we also have ports, and we try to exploit the port system to the best of our ability, but we are far from being a highly competitive maritime nation in the sense that our level of exploitation of maritime resources is still abysmally low" "A nation cannot be called a maritime nation simply because it has a body of waters, if you are not fully exploitative of those resources in the sense of putting ocean going vessels on those bodies of waters; we are still not a shipping nation" He lamented that Nigeria does not have ships and that some of the ships owned by some Nigerians are not ocean going vessels. He added that most vessels operating on Nigerian waters are foreign built and owned without Nigerian crew or Nigerian flag. "We can only celebrate because in terms of port reforms, everybody can see that we have gotten a little mileage, but when you are looking at the full potentials ahead of us as a littoral nation, so many other nations around us would have been depending on us if we have really maximise these God given resources. If we must celebrate at all, it must be at a very low key" He ssid Also speaking with Shipping Position Daily, a maritime lawyer; Mr Emeka Akabogu argued that Nigeria cannot be regarded as a shipping nation and that there is nothing to celebrate on the world maritime day. He noted that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) cannot pretend to be a maritime administration when the subject of administration is dead. He noted that his year’s celebration is centered on ships, but Nigeria still has a lot to do in terms of ensuring that we have ships and clean waters. "What kind of ships do we have in Nigeria? What kind of capacity does our maritime administration have to oversee these ships? You can be regulating while the subject of regulation is barely there" "If there is no evident increase in Nigeria’s tonnage over the recent past, then what is our focus of celebrating the maritime day? The focus of this year's celebration is on ships and operation of ships" Akabogu advised that greater efforts should be focused on developing the Nigerian tonnage and promotion of acquisition of Nigerian ships so that her ship registry would be more vibrant. He said that the multiplier effect of developing the Nigerian tonnage is that it would attract involvement of Nigerian professionals like surveyors, financial institutions and others who are support services to the shipping sector. On his part, a Master Mariner, Capt Tajudeen Alao argued that Nigeria must join other countries to celebrate movement of goods by sea. He said that Nigeria also has a reason to celebrate the world maritime day because it has an import-based economy and that 90% of its import is done by sea. "But we must leverage on that and be a player in the sector", he advised. Also towing the line of the master mariner, a maritime lawyer and former president of Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Barrister Jean Chiazor-Anishere said Nigeria is indeed a shipping Nation and she has a cause to celebrate with the rest of the World.According to her, Nigeria has more ship berths at her ports than other ports in West Africa. She also stressed that the country boasts of the largest cargo tonnage in West Africa, despite the horrible Apapa traffic which she said was due to poor road infrastructure and lack of sufficient rail link to the dry ports and warehouses.Anishere who is currently, the President of the African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA) stated that: "We have the best operating PPP system in West Africa. Our terminal operators have brought in some of the best equipment to our sea ports to meet international standard and our regulatory bodies such as NSC., NIMASA and NPA with NIWA, are improving their working standards and collaborating with our Navy, Marine Police and Air Force, for safe and cleaner oceans. Our Customs should also be applauded for ensuring that our sea ports are not used to dump contraband goods and weapons of war that are not licensed by the Federal Government".